Poems by Mimi White

November’s White Apples
          for Steve, always

Notice how the gold leaves spin
and the sky opens its black branches.

If I could hold
November’s extravagant loss
that ushers forth
the earth’s white meadows
I could arrive at the nexus
of ardor and faith.

Not long ago
we would have thought
that only the weather had turned
and brushed up our collars,
but now we turn into it.

We walk a path
crusted in ice,
the air indivisible
from wind and shadow.

Snow extinguishes
the sparrow’s brief song.
A fine dust flecks our faces,
the apples disappear.


After Careful Consideration

Tonight I am going to study the moon.
I meant to last night, but was lulled
by the dark, the lake revising itself
into silence and shadow,
edges of water on stone.
I lay on the dock that tilts
with the weight of the body
and watched a plane dot on and off,
then bank toward Labrador,
island of snow and wind and the most
hospitable people on earth, a friend had once said.
I dreamed of a village
where we lived out our lives,
where you studied your knots and boats,
bent over the table late into the night.
I called to you, thinking you would hurt your eyes
working so long in the oil lamp’s glow, but I was wrong.
I was wrong about so many things.


Looking For Luck

We crossed in a ferry with tiny windows
like slits into parts of dreams

and rolled from side to side and lost the sun.
A girl reading a book brought her face closer to the page

and her hair hid where she had gone.
This is how the islanders disappear

and return, one sewing, one singing,
one rehearsing the violin with her fingers

pressing on air. They ride the waves unburdened,
remembering happiness. Show me your losses

and I’ll show you mine, children say
trading, like playing cards, their share of misery.

You counted twenty raptors and stopped
astonished at your own good fortune,

a white crown and golden talons on every other tree,
their wings and the beauty of the wind

turning your heart. I held fast to the thin edge of desire,
to forget must be like birds

forgetting the sky. I wanted to touch your sleeve,
a part of you that would not give way.

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