Three Poems by Wendy Lyon

These three poems by W. B. Lyon are curious about human hearts and minds, and the actions they lead us to…

by: W. B. Lyon


In his late sun, kinged past any question
into pastime, between his canny moves
he carves a peach pit, cradled in thick scars
and tobacco stains in one sea-roughened

hand. Sometimes his dead son’s face, or his wife’s,
rises from his knife; dry flecks of peach stone
hit the game board as he waits for me
to accept my inevitable loss.

He shows me other whittled memories:
an officer’s face, a mate whose scarred-up face,
they’d say, could scare God. I get only faces 
and first names, then he pockets them away.

No stories of far, wild, or gentler seas,
no tales of home or exotic ports; here
on this plastic chair outside the fish shop,
all I get is a glimpse of what is left

when all the flesh is eaten away and
the hard, dried core refined by patience
and a small knife held in a skillful hand. 
  King me, he’ll say soon. And so I will.

We see the neighbor walk out every morning—
but only to the woods’ edge, that edge
growing steadily closer to her house.
But this morning she stopped. She squinted in,
then looked around, hesitant, and took
three steps, just three, inside the line to see

on shaggy dead wood in morning light, glistening
over twigs’ sharp ends, glistening, a spider’s
web triumphant, spangled bright in dew,

so lovely she almost reached out to touch
its bright pattern, its tensile strength of self-
made thread, but she saw then it was too far—

three steps too far for her, though her legs burned
to bring her closer, and these woods hold nothing
but her fear. Retreating, running, stumbling,

she recalled the fate of Arachne, who wove
such beauty; heedless and proud, she was caught
in a web spun out by a jealous god.

Always we’ve stood on this difficult hill,
by our natures misplaced in the daily 
mist, so that we look and call but rarely 
find each other—and finding, we’re quickly
parted by our own sly ghosts, or the mist
or our own echoed voices leading us

astray. If we could escape this place together,
together descend into common air,
we would. We both yearn for level ground,
unmitigated sun. Instead, we wander
on and on across our hill, mist-blinded,
groping for the other’s heart, and mostly missing.

Wendy Lyon’s work has appeared in The Anthology of Magazine Verse and Yearbook of American Poetry, Amelia, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Greensboro Review, Grub Street, The Literary Review, Manhattan Review, Moving Out, Poetry Northwest, Small Pond, and The Windsor Review. Lyon attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Wesleyan Writers Conference and holds an MA in creative writing from the University of Windsor. She enjoys volunteering her time teaching adults and children to read. Her pen name is W. B. Lyon.

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