Home for the Holidays & From Lines by Wei Ying-wu, Misremembered

Matthew Burns

Home for the Holidays

The creek: a crack
and black
through a snow-
coated field.
           The field:
a haze
white among
line after line
of knives of high
ridge and high ridge
and high

I want you
to know
what it means
to come
in the cold

and meet that old
life like the first
time you hold
a child.
           This life:
mine: flowing
along some long line

already cut
and winding
through an old field
I know
I've walked in

From Lines by Wei Ying-wu, Misremembered

                            In my office library, the morning cold,
                                   I suddenly think of a mountain guest…
                                                 —“Sent to a Master of Way in the Utter-Peak Mountains”

In my awful library, the moving cold,
I suddenly think of a mountain goat,

miniature, tripping its way over bookstacks
before returning home to its fresh sedge and stone.

I long to carry that small thing,
holding it like a fetish in my palm, my pocket;

but the mountains are miles to the west,
all stories of my having been there, unread.

Matthew Burns teaches writing and literature at SUNY Cobleskill in Upstate New York. His poem “Rhubarb” won the 2010 James Hearst Poetry Prize from North American Review, and his other poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Graze, Quiddity, Folk Art, Ragazine, Spoon River Poetry Review, Memoir (and), Camas, and others.