in memory of Anya Krogovoy Silver
After that first conference,
her words still
sparking synapse after synapse,
I took off into air,
her sentences the contraband
I hid behind a skull that looked sane enough
and was, transporting sharp syllables of God
and grief beneath the thin skin
of humanness I clung to more.
She had already returned to her life
down South, but was there also,
twenty rows back from the cockpit,
on the left, stabbing the clouds that somehow,
held us up, hovering together—
fierce, fragile believers—
in a wind we could not see.
All the way home, I re-read her voice,
tap-tapping the plane window.
after the march for others’ rights,
we read near a New York altar,
she in a vibrant scarf; I in my black sweater
pulled tight when her poems hit
the vaulted ceiling, then hovered
over the nave. The chilly air warmed.
In Michigan’s spring, she read of joy,
afterwards ducking from sleet
that pummeled our heads mid-April
en route to sunny tacos and Margaritas
where four friends chatted children and students,
air and asphalt icing up as we spoke.
Days later, I detoured
around black ice, believing
I’d finally escaped the unexpected
while, closer to death than we knew,
she stood up with friends and strangers
and spoke poems into the stale air
of the Grand Rapids airport,
freely donating words to any stranded
bystander willing to look her in the eyes.
In the already-written future,
she won’t land at our planned
seashore gathering, where we won’t,
without her, toss prayers and poems
into the salty air. Or we will,
her words large, owning the ocean’s voice
while the defiant cries of gulls
Winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize, Lock Haven University English Professor Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation and True, False, None of the Above—What She Was Saying(prose); children’s books; Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor). See www.marjoriemaddox.com