Of a Cold Country



Across the room
you stand in torchfire,
early king of cold country.
You drink wine. Your smile
is a thin refusal.

I made you out of lies and colors.
I learned your face before
then formed it.

I named you
and told you your life
in carved ivory.

You consented, you helped,
you enjoyed the array.

I mean you to live in a drowned forest
At the bottom of a lake. I meant you
to inhabit me and shine out.

I lean to see you,
profiled away, wrong to the light.
There is the sound of silk

as I veer-let go strung sense.

You are a space:

the white desolation
of a glare of sun.




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Isabel Nathaniel is a prize-winning poet born and brought up in New York City. Her poems have appeared widely in magazines, including Poetry, The Nation, Field, Ploughshares, and Prairie Schooner. Among her many honors are a Discovery/The Nation Prize and the Robert H. Winner Award, Gertrude B. Claytor Award, and two Cecil Hemley Awards from the Poetry Society of America. Her collection, The Dominion of Lights received the 1996 Texas Institute of Letters Award for the Best Book of Poetry.