Diane Churchill

The poems of Miriam Levine have been an inspiration to me, as have our conversations during and beyond a residency in Fundacion Valparaiso. These two poems are from Miriam's collection, "The Dark Opens" (2008), chosen by Mark Doty for the prestigious Autumn House Poetry Prize. The first poem speaks to me of art; the second of sensuality, always present in art.


We go into dark and dark opens.
Boats tipped with light and moon on the water.
There is no difference between the tree and the shadow of the tree.
There is no space between light and the wave coming shoreward.
No break between the voice and the word.
There is no difference between your breath and your dear life.
There is no end of you.


Tilting the black shell,
I sucked the sack,
tongued the nub
where mussel stuck.

I tore off hunks,
sopped up sauce.
A pile of shells
wrecked on the table,
far from their rocky home.
I was ready to sail.

Ahead of me-
pink tenderloin
in a pool of juice,
brown fungi big as doorknobs
sweating on the grill.

I would learn to hold
red peppers in the flame
until the skins burned black.
Peeled, they lay tamed, musty,
half-hard on my tongue.
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02RedRiver 270 Diane Churchill