Issue 25 – 2014 – Monica Berlin & Beth Marzoni

Monica Berlin & Beth Marzoni


Where we stand, here a line of doors 

pulling in walls, & a low-ceilinged not quite 

cloud around our heads, almost 
window-less light—artificial, yellowed—or nothing 

to throw open, no curtained-breeze, no patch of sun 
to catch dust or afternoon & nothing floating 

near invisible. So & So, every wide-open expanse—
even the ones only day-dreamed stretch & 

endless—narrows, overnight tapering into 
pass-through. Where impassable begins then changes 

names to make the acres a sea; where the fields still
winter-slack & fallow fill; where once crop, wave 

after wave: all our small towns sodden. Where 
will empty or breach, or blown open then clear 

heavy-wet. & no wonder that barn 
in deep, those houses up to sill, & how 

impossible the trees again & still bare, that
emptied out or flooded changes nothing of any importance

just our startled view. How impossibly estranged the natural 
geometry of branches & sky sharpened then doubled 

by moonlight by water by water. Where bare,
not bereft but themselves, winter lingers into the long & 

lonely, into the darkened & lapping now. & when 
we say stand, say here, we mean suddenly night-blind 

washed-out road. We mean nothing’s concealed 
from the river by the river’s own 

full & fearsome name—that gathering in of all the waters
& its shapes. This banks. This temporary. We clear 

the bend ahead somehow, well, So, only 
high ground can keep a kind 

of distance, only hill or bluff, but we’d rather 
humble. So flood plain. Set us adrift 

on that widening erasure, deep disguised 
as another sky & laid down to quiet so many 

sorrows, & undone their boundary lines carry off, temper 
such passing. Tamped down & waterlogged 

pockets of all our lousy grief shushed by the rising, again,
the breach again, the rain again, & again clouds over navigable.

Took on nearly the length of the river & almost as much water

to turn again, north pronounced moonless,

road slicked dizzying dark as 
logjamdrift. These veins we’ve driven. 

Our own hearts & again—that long-ago 
stitched into interstate & exchange, what pulls 

at us, So, now. That no sky yawns wide enough. 
That no number of state lines downpour can 

wash out. Not that empty rooms 
wait, but that echo that says history, 

says what we build—. Took on sea 
level, city where the sidewalks call 

their own names. Dear city hums a city
at work framed by open doors. Took on 

so much un-walled, so much open 
to street & air, the most 

open always tucked farthest inside. Sometimes 
city of overheard & accent. Sometimes city 

underwater. Maybe we came to you thinking we 
could blueprint the future, but took instead 

what we sensed all along: anywhere without
apology the sky will open up & keep 

opening; the river will turn 
quiet & deep & then deeper. 



Monica Berlin & Beth Marzoni‘s collaborations have appeared or are forthcoming in Better: Culture & LitColorado ReviewDenver QuarterlyDIAGRAMMeridian, and New Orleans Review, among others. Their book, No Shape Bends the River So Long, won the 2013 New Measure Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Free Verse Editions at Parlor Press.