Cassie Donish: Three Poems

As a continuation of our feature of Cassie Donish’s poetry, we’re excited today to present three new poems. Please check back tomorrow for a short interview with Cassie, and after that she’ll officially join our staff as an editor. — AS

The Painted Trees

“summer berries”
a tiny restaurant / afloat

with afternoon sun / traffic noise

intoned your first poem /
was incidental

the ancient script and score:
before the stars were planted in the sky
the trees were planted in the woods, before…

tree leaves like berries / berry-winged birds

the now of branches / round and round the house


who was the we of whom you often spoke?

walking arm in arm on a narrow road
        cars that skim our hair / children at play

                (who will grow old and die or else die young)

you glanced at the roof
where a dog lived once

if everything / disappeared

it’s clear you’d / come here

and call for the dog
for hours


but to stop with all
the hypotheticals
conditionals old as / our condition

to move directly
into the metaphorical—

walking downtown / felt sick
leaned against concrete pillars / threw up pink

moments moved
in both directions / imagined properties of light

and something makes
something probable—

impossible / to forget / the painting:

how we stood at the edge of the strait
watched it tilt

and expand / and the waters

shone / unbelievably


You’ve come back from abroad
and all you want’s
a margarita
as we sit at a table
on the sidewalk
at the end of summer
unfolding each word
like a feared diagnosis.
I apologized, you wished
I’d said something
else, and vice versa.
I asked
if I could squeeze
lime onto the flesh
where your palm meets
your wrist.
Fine, you said,
pressing a nickel
through your scars.
You wanted to throw
the shining truck across
the restaurant.
I became enfolded
in an unintelligible series
of decisions and retreats
from those decisions
and to decide
was like trying to distinguish
the color of a tree’s leaves
at various times of day
and from various angles,
and at night not seeing the tree at all.


                                        to pour

into one another’s                       line of

vision an                         image: stockings,

say:                                   father,
friend, phone, leather
glove, siphon
                            this night

in which I approach

the edge of
the ravine where the
train stopped

                it recoils with each
account or does it

this blue night cut
out of water, dirty
humid light, scissor
it up, serve it here
we’ll taste


I allow the easy
sliding away from
one color

into a flower of sheets
knowing I said
otherwise, said I
don’t allow only
to hear the sound
of it, to call
it untrue

one way to mislead
is to stay in one place
while everyone
else keeps


where is the pink
bed of water
from whence
this dark

you wake (I wake)
and any other
coincident thing, any

final thread leads back
to a lit
pool, greened
by undertow
pink tones inflecting
this as a body


I opened my mouth to taste the world
the final sweet preserves of a given
in which we stand in the kitchen
opening every
empty jar

I dive in you dive
up I dive through
the green ring

and slide
again toward
a mirror so dark, I can’t
see anything

body of a dog
sky hinged to a door
waiting for fallout

my hair
fire                     caught

in a disaster or was the earthquake—no,
no earthquake lasts that long


I only felt
you leave as trembling

I only love
to be a haunting

                                        I consider any verge
a haunting


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