Beverly Burch


Beverly Burch (no relation to THT's editor) has been published in a number of journals, including Slant, Poetry International, Many Mountains Moving, Red Rock Review, Tar River Poetry, North American Review and Southern Poetry Review. She has published two collections of nonfiction: On Intimate Terms (University of Illinois) and Other Women (Columbia). She has taught literature and psychology at DeKalb College and New College of California.

Reflections at Gualala Point

Six days together, bolted with light—
a sun of extravagant brilliance
for that fog-bound coast, and you
so intent, burning to stay alive.
Two months later I’m here without you,
everything still kindled, even the fog,
a purplish flush blooming over water.

Yesterday by the hidden pool
I sat where we sat, a curved cypress limb,
heard you saying your luck
wasn’t hard, not like some others.
On the beach I swear you rose again
from the waves, gleaming
in that white nylon running suit,
gauzy Venus calling forever into the wind,
arms lifted, sleeves opening like wings,
reflecting the shimmer, sun on water.

I went back to the tiny chapel,
its strange design squat like a mushroom,
stained glass windows shaped to the landscape.
When we were there, you felt some presence.
It might have been your own—
just off, just the near future.

It’s still there—
as if you learned to release yourself,
infinitely thinned, pellucid, transparently embodied
in the air, the water, the earth here.
As if you’ve become wave and particle,
transmitting. It might also be me,
through sheer longing
receiving signs of you everywhere.

First published in The Santa Clara Review

Respiracion a Paraguay

—carbon dioxide you exhale while walking in your back yard has almost as much
chance of being taken in by a tree in a forest in China as by local photosynthesis. —Tyler Volk, N.Y. Times, 8/11/98

She made a quiet entrance, the baby,
born weeks too early & muy pequenita.
She was in Paraguay,
a country so faraway and poor
we could not even get news.
Five months waiting for documentos—
lost in some I.N.S. drawer,
dropped on a disorderly desk in Asuncion.

Five months, adoption delayed.
I pictured her in arms,
an impossibly devoted foster mother.
Like keeping a feather aloft, I imagined
my own breath sustaining her from California.
It was so.
It was the lapachos, pink-blossoming trees
of Paraguay—they received,
they sent forth to her.

First published in Slant

Evening Inversions
A lightning strike’s been left to burn
in Illilouette gorge, two fires smolder
in Hetch Hetchy: each night smoke drifts,

a scorched blanket settles over Yosemite Valley.
Through tent canvas, we breathe fire-soot,
dream we’re lighting cigarettes

after ten years’ abstinence, our house ablaze.
Morning, eyes feel singed, nostrils sting,
toast tastes charred. Slowly sun lifts the haze,

fresh air scours the valley. By noon the sky
reverts to its shock of blue, clean heat
in the afternoon—summer in the high country.

Back home: moods, silence.
Clear day masks damage here too, allows
deceptions we choose.
But bad air, dirty evidence drops over us nightly.
I dream you’re sleeping with
my old girlfriend, the one you hate. Your bodies

melt like wax under flame, fuse into
my perfect lover. That’s how I
get through the night.

But wilderness needs to burn sometime.
In the morning you’ll want to talk.

First published in Borderlands