Self-Portrait Lined by Tomas Tranströmer

Self-Portrait Lined by Tomas Tranströmer | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Camille Flammarion, L'Atmosphere: Météorologie Populaire (Paris, 1888). Colorized by Heikenwaelder Hugo. Courtesy of Heikenwaelder Hugo/Wikimedia Commons.

I stood in a room that contained every moment

            it contained Tranströmer, insects, and charcoal

                          drawings, pocket watches, minarets surrounded by stars,


dusty tomes, moss-damp boulders, a mascara

            wand, and the fragment of a map to a secret

                          memory I was supposed to mine. I took a step


into the dizzy litany of all that’s been lost, letting loose

            a howl so loud that birds fell in feathered hail and the clouds

                          recoiled, carving out a cathedral from clamor. The walls


vibrated into a hymn till they were filled with hieroglyphs

            of all our histories, lavish as galaxies and topiary gardens, gilded

                          mirrors, and Rococo paintings of cotton-candy clad women.


Amid a present plainness cut out of time-space shimmer, I stand

            stripped of all trimmings. A new almanac and its moonlight layer the world

                          in silver foil, and the ocean’s green force rises up through the floor.

Simone Muench is the recipient of an NEA poetry fellowship and author of six full-length books, including Wolf Centos (2014). She is an editor of the collaborative writing anthology They Said (2018) and serves as a senior poetry editor for Tupelo Quarterly, faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review, and poetry editor for JackLeg Press.

Jackie K. White is the author of three previous chapbooks and the co-author, with Simone Muench, of Hex & Howl (2021). A former professor of English at Lewis University, her poems, translations, and collaborative poems have appeared in such journals as Bayou, Third Coast, American Poetry Review, and Pleiades.
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