Jane Craven

Each Day a Reimagination

After the election, a consolation, the eminent jazz pianist 
enters from the wings, sits at the keyboard, says a few words 
about healing divisions, and, hand over hand, begins 

to build a world we can close our eyes to; a love letter, 
soft hammer and string—one of those songs where 
leaves are always falling. It is always New York. 

Umbrellas bob down wet sidewalks, smell of steam 
and ash, an iron cast to the sky. Chinese lanterns line 
a window, a beloved waits alone at a table. 

O America, inamorata, we are more than a contentious 
show of hands. More than a careless wind, branches brushing 
across the windows. A failing sky yellows, darkens. A dry fuse 

detonates along a ridgeline. We have watched all week 
as Appalachia ignites, vaporizes into the already 
asthmatic lungs of children. Mothers and fathers breathe 

for them, cut away brush, desperate to destroy 
everything death can grab onto. The pianist’s hands
travel faster, back and forth along the keyboard. Air masses 

swirl in the upper atmosphere, curl in on themselves. The smoke 
will reach us tomorrow. A vocalist keens 
before a microphone in a shimmery dress, bares her throat 

to the sky, pausing open mouthed between vowels, waiting 
for a response, drum of thunder, of rain. 



There should be set aside 
some wild space 
an uncanny valley 
that smells of pine 
and queen anne’s lace 
a gorge slashed 
to fine furrow 
then filled with enough 
green treasure to last 
no matter how we alter 
the world’s ratio 
of mass to void 
always a flash renewal 
a new flicker of trout 
in diamond water 
seeds falling
on the surface 
swirled downstream.



You had some idea how it would work 
the morning a flatbed pulled up in the yard 

but watching it happen was a revelation 
not a good or bad one but a slow disclosure 

of how the world goes about its business. 
A man in overalls, tired before he began, 

unspooled a chain off the back of the truck 
and locked it with a clank around the dead 

horse’s neck. Dad flat drunk, arms folded 
trying to stay upright, we daughters still 

in nightgowns standing in the wet grass.
The motor sputtered to life, chain jerked  

and the enormous body inched forward as a 
mountain might move, an astonishment of weight  

you would see again in a shrimper’s haul 
the net suspended at daybreak full to bursting 

above the deck, the catch glittering like love 
and when someone first hands you an infant, 

or a box of ashes. You will always be transfixed 
by the unbroken tenderness of the burden. 


Jane Craven lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and has worked in systems development for AT&T and as the director of a contemporary art museum. Jane has poetry forthcoming in The Texas Review.


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