String Figures

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December 22, 2016 by The Citron Review

by JR Tappenden and Heather Lang

Even in August, a trickle ran through the bottom of the wash behind my apartment: a thread of olive drab when everything else was dun, ochre and slate, slippery dry like talc but with a little more grit. Scratches hanging together in dust devils. (Why care about your car’s finish? There’s never any reason to salt the roads here. The paint will fade before it rusts.) Afternoons, a roadrunner would hop in from the wash, patrol the parked cars, drive the cat crazy. They really are a cartoon: neck, legs and tail sticking out like knitting needles from a ball of speckled yarn. Movement by Calder. Moved by the dragonflies drawn to the sprinkler. (Why had I insisted on a place with grass? For this very scene, it turned out.) To look forward to seeing this un/real bird most days, as if the desert had sent a special envoy to pull me from hiding, to make me look in its long-beaked, bug-eating face and name the beauty there.

          At night our sprinklers
          brim, and strands of water cross
          like yarn: cat’s cradle.

JR Tappenden is the founding editor of Architrave Press and poetry editor for december magazine. She earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Missouri – St. Louis where she also served as the university’s first Poet Laureate. Her poems have appeared in The Baltimore Review, Flyway, Euphony, Ithaca Lit and elsewhere. Her chapbook Independent City is out now from Wells College Press.

Heather Lang is a poet, literary critic, and adjunct professor. Her poetry has been published by The Normal School, Pleiades, Whiskey Island, and elsewhere. Recently, Nevada’s NPR member radio station interviewed Heather about her poetry, and her writing process was on exhibit at the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery. Heather serves as an editor with both The Literary Review and Petite Hound Press. She’s a Nevada State College Arts & Culture Council member. 


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