Antonia Clark works for a medical software company in Burlington, Vermont, and is co-administrator of an online
poetry workshop, The Waters. Her poems have appeared in The 2River View, Anderbo, Apparatus Magazine, The
Cortland Review, Soundzine, Umbrella, and elsewhere. She loves French food and wine, and plays French café
music on a sparkly purple accordion.
Everyone knows the moon
has a habit of lying, making
promises it can never keep.
Some things we give ourselves
up to, as easily as to sleep,
however suspect, however brief.
Even as we know that beauty
twists the wrist of logic,
that desire suspends disbelief.
First published in Victorian Violet, Issue 7, 2011
That icy season in rented rooms,
days of pale and watery light,
we might have lost one another
if not for how, each night, we listened
through papered walls to her aria
of despair, the heavy strains
of his grievances
how, without a libretto,
we followed the convoluted weave
of their lies and disguises, the songs
of the foolish, the faithless—
he always accusing, demanding,
she promising, pleading
how, in the interlude, we'd turn
to one another, breathless
with their need, their desperate longing
how, in our release, we cried out
with him, Non so piu cosa son!
I no longer know who I am!
how in the end, we sobbed
with her, Lascia ch'io pianga,
Let me weep, oh, let me weep.
First published in The Cortland Review, Issue 47, 2010
About the Dead
What children understand
about the dead is how they cling
to life, how they assert
their sentiments and preferences,
instead of giving up the ghost.
Children, alert to stirrings
of the air, to whispers, hushed
voices in the kitchen, strain
to hear their soft footfalls.
The dead cannot be rushed
into the afterlife. They linger
near their loved ones, listening
and leaving clues—a bar
of yellow light across the floor,
scents of earth and river,
muddy shoes, missing change,
the creaking of a door.
They wait for signs, longing
for us to mention their names,
insatiable for our attention.
First published in Lucid Rhythms, Issue 1, August, 2007
Famous Last Words
The dying make no bones about it. It's life
they want to talk about—business as usual:
news and weather, sports, the sound of rain
striking the windowpane, the most recent hole in one,
stock prices, interest rates, errands to run.
The dying talk of elephants, veal pies, rising fog,
tiresome wallpaper, shore birds at low tide. Chekhov
spoke fondly of champagne, Bogart of Scotch.
Dylan Thomas totted up his whiskeys, satisfied.
They often speak of the dark or ask for the light
to be left on or off. They may cry out,
"I'm still alive!" or more soberly reflect
on things they should have done or said,
bills still unpaid, books left unread.
My father, a joker even at the end,
said "Don't call me, I'll call you." It's kept
the thought of him alive, it's true. Hope springs
eternal, just like fear, each time the phone rings.
First published in Rattle, #27, Summer, 2007
Smoke and Mirrors
My sister dressed in the colors of water
and stone, walked out on foggy mornings
in search of misted rivers,
folded herself into low-lying clouds.
She insisted that none of this
was for the purpose of deception.
It's a matter of becoming
accustomed, she said. It's incremental.
She studied the art of graceful sleight:
To take her leave without notice, without
a visible stirring of air, as if dying
were only another illusion.
The hard part is what to do with the body,
she told me. The rest is nothing.
It's easy to disappear.
First published online by the InterBoard Poetry Community, August 2009
Reprinted in Soundzine, Issue 12, 2011
Talking With the Dead
Lately, I've been talking with the dead,
who, to my great surprise, are rather witty
and always eager to pick up the thread
of conversation. It would be a pity
not to take their excellent advice
on death and taxes, tips on making money.
They say it's true that God does not play dice,
or drink or dance. And he's not very funny.
Those who were just dying to get free
of life now want to tell me all the time
how easy living really was. They see,
at last, it beats hell out of the Sublime.
My questions about angels sour their mood,
and they've nothing good to say about the food.
First published in Light Quarterly, 2007
Reprinted in The Shit Creek Review, Issue 10, 2009
Optical Aberrations and Other Anomalies
Apparent motion can be
a trick of light
the displacement of stars,
a blurring at the edge
the way the angle of rain
changes as you move
properties of aquamarine,
and those you bring
a slick sideslip between
what we know and guess,
between the seer
and the seen.
The sleights of art,
by the practiced dancer
the deflection of a question
that has no answer.
First published in Softblow, 2011
Clouds hunch and shudder, slope-shouldered
lovers who once crowded like children
over a handful of pebbles, slick from the river.
The kitchen fills with yellow light. Voices
fall away. When it comes, the rain wavers
on the glass, gathers, then gushes all at once.
A woman holds back the truth of her life
as long as she's able, then spills everything,
learns that she's always been insatiable.
Now she will stop at nothing
and there's nothing left to stop her.
First published in The 2River View, Spring, 2008
Regret lingers, niggles. Yellow lilies
on the table, gone brown in the vase.
The garden we talk about, endlessly,
but never begin, deterred by tough sod.
On the edge of the walk, the wheelbarrow
full of stones waits like an undelivered
apology. Within, the floor needs scrubbing
and only hands and knees will do the job.
I know that forgiveness is a simple meal—
a salad, a boiled potato, a glass of tea.
Easy to prepare, to offer. That the silence
afterward will satisfy, perhaps even nourish.
First published in The Fox Chase Review, Winter/Spring, 2011
Petiole, part leaf, part stem,
rootlike thread, hair of the vine,
you twist any trellis, twine
around whatever you touch,
nothing but coil and spiral,
grabbing the branch,
grasping the straw.
All you can do, like any of us
is clutch and climb,
clasp and cling,
First published in The Fox Chase Review, Winter/Spring, 2011
In Another City
— On a line by Sam Byfield
The yellow moon, the factories, brief snow—
I'm only passing through aboard a train
streaking through your night. Once, long ago,
in another dingy city, in light rain,
I lingered at the station with some lover
or other, someone arriving or departing—
both of us young and destined to discover
absence. The old story's always starting
or ending. And the chapters in between
slip by like nameless towns along the way.
The drifting moon and snow, a view I've seen
a hundred times. A woman dressed in gray
waits on the platform. I notice, as we pass,
my own face through the window's misted glass.
First published in 14 x 14, August, 2008