“Poems use language to point us toward the world that is often overlooked—the world of stillness, the world where points of vital connection tremble and come into being,” Laurie Lamon has declared. “Danger”— reprinted below with her permission—is from her new manuscript Over Joy. These poems explore origins; they want to speak to the parts of our lives that are impossible to penetrate without the imagination’s vision, and they continue Lamon’s fascination with the closely observed, hauntingly familiar distinctions of our daily lives. —Ed.
In the pictures we drew as children, wind was green, aquatic,
so here was a tune only we could hear,
a green tune of cats we painted
in the morning when our mother’s illness kept us quiet.
And if blue was to be the color of danger
in pictures we drew as children, then sky would be green, and aquatic
the suns we painted yellow-on-yellow and left
in the room for our mother where the slightest motion was the color
of danger. What we knew we made, painting a green tune of cats
in the afternoons when our mother’s illness kept us quiet.
We knew the color of danger was brilliant: blue and red and deeper
blue in the pictures we drew as children, the aquatic
limbs of trees, birds above houses in a perfumed arc;
every night we found a tune of new paint for the greenest spire
of our green tune filled with cats.
In the hours of our mother’s illness, we painted wind and the flight
of wind with brushes and feathers, our names the letters
she found in the pictures we drew as children, blue-green and aquatic
when danger was greenest blue, was red, was a green tune filled with cats
Laurie Lamon’s poems have appeared in journals and magazines including “The Atlantic Monthly,” “The New Republic,” “Ploughshares,” “Arts & Letters Journal of Contemporary Culture,” “The Literary Review,” “180 More Extraordinary Poems for Ordinary Days, edited by Billy Collins,” and others. Her poetry collections include The Fork Without Hunger, 2005, and Without Wings, 2009. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and was selected by Donald Hall as a Witter Bynner Fellow in 2007. She is a professor of English at Whitworth University in Spokane.