Beside the Steps
by John Snethen

It is a long scar we make ourselves
believe we have left. Maybe just that
believing is what scours the truce
from our solitude. Stares that scavenge
the grasps our bodies made of our breaths,
how do we walk them back, speak no more
of scrapes left in the flooring, until scuffs
worn in the warping boards scoff that they bear
their palmer’s frowning witness?
It can all be gone as quickly as the sparrows
who left their familiar, minute pipings
etched in the pane’s frost
the sun withdraws like a card.

We rose to walk beside the steps that brought us
home last night; let their hollows of snow hold our glances,
carry them like votives into this dusk.

Enough from the Sky
by John Snethen

That slight swallow you gather under
the realization the next
failing has clarified the way on,
forgive it, forgive this body
wrung from turpitude primaeval,
so desperate against the ages’ privations
it makes the nourishment of fortitude
the first ceremony of grieving, the forlorn asking
after emptiness to bear against what has begun,
what has been laden, the mind already
weighing beneath surety, a prayer begun
at the bending fate cowls out of time,
a slick, black bough weighted in rain.
You’ve watched it,
the water reaching back up
the underside of the branch again and again
to gather enough from the sky
to be swallowed on into what it must.

John Snethen is a life long Iowan. He has a BA in English from the University of Iowa. He has swum in the Iowa River, lived in Iowa City and in Iowa County. He has had about a dozen poems published in three publications, one of which is Lyrical Iowa.