And in My Arms, Dale Champlin

Charles Hood, Grains and Veins


And in My Arms


Picture anything—

you will know it when you see it
        —say a pavilion of summer
a pond with a floating moon—
   frogs singing the night in.

      Now turn your back
to the pond        the lily pads
      and the reflection
            of the moon.

You are facing a picnic table
                but you can’t see it.
Approach it carefully
so you don’t bump into it
    and bruise your leg.

The tablecloth is blue
        —but invisible in the dark
you are still a child—brush
the rough wood of the bench
     with your palm

        —and sit down.
No, you don’t get a sliver.

Your mother and father
argue in the kitchen.

The screen door slaps shut.

—You hear mother’s light footsteps
on the porch stairs.
         She sits down beside you
                  and wraps you in her arms.

Dale Champlin


Review by Kevin Swanwick

The first line of this poem leads us on the path of imagination, setting up the prism through which all readers receive verse. The subsequent lines make a compelling case for memory and imagination, as if it were all image making.

Until the end.

The profound twist comes in the last eight lines of the poem. The story has emerged and we share in the knowledge that nothing cements memory as vividly as trauma and love.

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