by Sara Burnett
A teacher of mine once said every writer
has only four or five subjects.
There’s happiness in repetition
if you don’t hear the seconds ticking.
What’s worse? Dedicating yourself
to failure or denying it again and again?
Pacher’s pupil, a Renaissance carver, perfected
the pine folds of Saint Margaret’s robes
using a large axe, then
several smaller ones, then
sanded and painted her in fine detail.
Did he ever think where did the time go?
She stands at the back of a church in Tyrol,
a dragon writhing under her feet.
What do you live for? The quiet
before sunrise or the moments after.
The baby coos in her pram.
I’ve always wanted to use the word pram
at least once in a poem.
Now that I’m a mother,
I’ve a better understanding of terror
and the miraculous.
Who will she be when she’s grown?
Do I have time to shower?
If, as a famous writer decreed, it takes 10,000 hours
to achieve mastery,
I’ve perfected rocking my hips from side-to-side,
changing a diaper in dim dawn light.
My baby practices sitting up even in her sleep—
her head bobs like a buoy, her eyelids shudder.
My teacher said sometimes your first line
is your last line.
What’s more? The moment she walks
or the moment she falls down.
Looking again at the photo, the dragon
lies curled at Margaret’s feet.
I’m holding an image of an image
someone else carved in my hands.
She loves it when I sprinkle my fingers
down on her like rain.
I’m holding the rain in my hands
and in my hands, the rain holds her.