Karen Craigo teaches English to international students at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Her work has appeared in the journals Poetry, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, Puerto del Sol, The MacGuffin, and others. Her chapbook, Stone for an Eye, is part of the Wick Poetry Series. She is a former fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and has received two awards in poetry and one in creative nonfiction from the Ohio Arts Council. She is the nonfiction editor of Mid-American Review, and she also serves as an associate editor of Drury’s national literary journal, Gingko Tree Review.
Neither Created Nor Destroyed
—For Tommy and Patt
Say you were entrusted
with a jewel of great worth.
Say it blazed red in your hand.
Then, let’s say, you were asked
to put it up somewhere,
a high shelf, just beyond
your grasp. From that point
it’s a matter of faith. Sometimes
you sense it in the periphery:
just around the corner,
just up the stairs. You think
the whole house is aflame.
When you hold out your palm
others would tell you it is empty,
but something still burns there.
You see it. You see it.
Naming What Is
—for Aimee and Dustin
You picture them in the garden:
a nameless animal presses its face
against her hand, and she offers
a syllable or two. The man with her
agrees: dog, monkey, snake. It was all
so pure then—they were incorruptible,
and language moved between them
like a beast, sweet and lumbering.
You can see them: a man and a woman,
in a grove, all of the trees laden with fruit.
There is a pond there, and one bird, yet
to be christened, stretches to touch another’s
white neck. It takes two to make a language,
and the animals were just the beginning.
Did they label how the nighthawk veers
through the dusk, or that splash the man hears
when it’s too late to spot the lake trout
twisting in air? There is so much
waiting to be named—we are surrounded
by things anonymous and strange for their lack.
And even now two heads bend together
in whispered negotiation. Their very prayers
acknowledge the power in the name:
Berry. Woman. Swan. Man. Miracle.