The American Museum of Visionary Art

On the side of Key Highwaya tree is hung with brokenlight: diamonds, circles, squaresof glass on wire that glitterin the January wind.We stand before it.

Who would want to see a hundredof ourselves refracted.

the elusive, touching,the elusive, bitter light

what is elusive

The Elusive

will you elude me

Once, years before all this, I asked him forhis five favorite words.

This was the old languagethat did not include

our child’s breathing,or the warm weight of our

daughters in our armsthat did not include

this tree, all brokenlight.

What compelled us

(to elude each other)

the first year of our marriagewhen you were gone

when you lived across that ocean

What compels us

when we drive each other’svoices from the room.

An argument: our selves refracted.

Who would know howto navigate that past

how to envision thispresent moment.

Twelve years together.

The tree’s glass edges shake in the wind.

Blue, yellow, purple glittering.An always tree.

What compels us, now,once I asked him,he whose memory includes nothing unspoken.

The glass tree so steady.

How to envision.

Memory a fugitiveMemory that glittering, transparent, broken tree—its own language.

Now we turn to each other.Will you–

Nicole Cooley has published five books, most recently Breach (LSU Press) and Milk Dress (Alice James Books), both in 2010. Her work has appeared most recently in The Rumpus, Drunken Boat and Tinderbox. She is the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College—CUNY.


BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month

If “love calls us to the things of this world,” then poetry too can call us to think about challenging questions, difficult situations, and social justice, implicating and engaging the reader with the world we live in, in the hope that this engagement is a step toward wrestling with our better selves.