Via Negativa in the Town Park, Late February – a poem by Anne Yarbrough

Via Negativa in the Town Park, Late February 

The geese grazing tarnished yellow grass 
are nonchalant, and rightly so.
When some benighted dog dashes to catch them
they, at home in each dimension, lift away into the gray sky
and settle gently upon the river, and calmly float there,
indifferent again, easeful, directionless.

Children run from the river’s edge to the playground
bearing their prizes, pieces of driftwood, mostly,
or small river stones that fill their pockets, or a gray goose feather.
On this cold day the swings hang motionless,
the jungle-gym a dark iron grid, flat, empty,
the slide a downward path from sky to earth, untaken.

Along the path along the river
a woman in a long dark coat stands still, looking up at 
the dark forked branches of an old tree
then sits on a bench and looks at the river,
which doesn’t look back. A man with a yellow dog
passes two women who walk together, one hatless.

Two more men walk along the path, 
looking for Pokémon creatures who lurk 
in the old trees and rise up immaterial
from the gray river, then slip away again
to hide somewhere else. Three young
men confer near a clump of marsh reeds, gravely. 

The men are walking slowly now, in single file
along the river path, heads bowed,
holding their phones in front of them,
a short procession of choristers holding hymnals
or young monks lifting up empty bowls, 
tilting them toward the sky.

Anne Yarbrough‘s debut collection, Refinery, was chosen by Hayden Saunier for the 2021 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize and published by Broadkill River Press. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, Delmarva Review, Philadelphia Stories, Gargoyle Magazine, CALYX Journal, and elsewhere. She lives in an observation post along the lower Delaware River with a husband and a dog.

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