Nicole Cooley


          The American Museum of Visionary Art

On the side of Key Highway
a tree is hung with broken
light: diamonds, circles, squares
of glass on wire that glitter
in the January wind.
We stand before it.

Who would want to see a hundred
of 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 for
his five favorite words.

This was the old language
that did not include

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

daughters in our arms
that did not include

this tree, all broken

What compelled us

(to elude each other)

the first year of our marriage
when you were gone

when you lived across that ocean

What compels us

when we drive each other’s
voices from the room.

An argument: our selves refracted.

Who would know how
to navigate that past

how to envision this
present 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 no
thing unspoken.

The glass tree so steady.

How to envision.

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

Now we turn to each other.
Will you–

About Nicole Cooley

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.


National Poetry Month
National Poetry Month

BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month 2016

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.