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By Linda Bierds

When the cow died by the green sapling,

her limp udder splayed on the grass

like something from the sea, we offered

our words in their low calibrations—

which was our fashion—then severed

her horns with a pug-toothed blade

and pounded them out to an amber

transparency, two sheets that became,

in their moth-wing haze, our parlor windows.

They softened our guests with the gauze-light

of the Scriptures, and rendered to us,

on our merriest days, the sensation

of gazing through the feet of a gander.

In time we moved up to the status

of glass—one pane, then two—each

cupping in proof of its purity

a dimple of fault, a form of distortion

enhancing our image. We took the panes

with us from cottage to cottage,

moth-horn and glass, and wedged up

the misfitted gaps with a poultice

of gunny and wax. When woodsmoke

darkened our bricks, we gave

to the windowsills a lacquer

of color—clear blue with a lattice

of yellow: a primary entrance and exit

for light. And often, walking home

from the river and small cheese shop,

we would squint their colors to a sapling

green, and remember the hull

of that early body, the slap of fear

we suffered there, then the little wash

of recovery that is our fashion—how

we stroked to her bones a cadenced droning,

and took back from her absence, our

amber, half-literal method of sight.

Linda Bierds, “Windows” from The Ghost Trio (New York: Henry Holt, 1994).
Copyright © 1994 by Linda Bierds. Reprinted with the permission of the

Source: The Ghost Trio: Poems (Henry Holt & Co., 1994)

Poet Bio

Linda Bierds
Born in Delaware, Linda Bierds lived in Anchorage until she was seven. She attended both undergraduate and graduate school at the University of Washington, where she is a professor and director of the creative writing program. Her current residence is on Bainbridge Island, located in the Central Puget Sound Basin. She is the author of seven volumes of poetry and appears regularly in The New Yorker. She has won several major awards and grants including the Guggenheim and the “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation. See More By This Poet

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