Two Poems

Sunrise with pinpoint of light through a tree


After the watch, dorveille,
pin-prick of stud in sky,
before that six a.m.
first warbler wake-up call
from elm above the deck,
in dream a wife no longer
answers to her name, entering
chapters of houses, rooms
of light, keys to be clicked
in every door while outside
rise banks of wildflowers
she’ll climb. 


Parents at Rest

      Fairfax, Oklahoma

How, in the afternoon,
after performing chores
in sync – grocery shopping,
his cooking, her cleaning up –
they would lie on the angled couch,
toe-to-toe, his side, hers,
books in hand, his biographies,
her murder mysteries,
listening to Beethoven.
He’d nod off while she read
to the rhythm of his breath.
Outside the open windows
waves thumped on stony beach,
seagulls buffeting wind.

The houses of their birth,
both yellow brick, now crumbled:
one perched hilltop above
pasture, the other, Prairie-school
city house with sunken garden.
How he waited for her
these many years in the graveyard
below her childhood home
where now they sleep together
beneath the rhapsody
of meadowsweet.

Elise Paschen is a member of the Osage Nation. She is the author of The Nightlife (forthcoming), Bestiary, and Infidelities (Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize winner). Her poems have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines, including the New Yorker and Poetry. Co-editor of Poetry Speaks and Poetry in Motion, she teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.