Festival of Choirs Linda Cooper From the inside of a mountain, chamber walls, basalt and silica, sea of bubbling magma, I am slowly raising the earth. Because lifting is not the same as being lifted. My brother is inside another mountain. I know this because I cannot see him. He sounds like black flowers and a bitter pear. Like butter melting inside the moon. I can do only this: listen. The table holds a glass bowl of bright dahlias and lemons. My brother comes to me in dreams, tells me it is alright to forget that I am grieving. He does this because longing is different than being longed for. Being near him is like the color blue or the spark of an orange’s first bite. His hands are a vessel of fire.
The Procession of Things to Come Linda Cooper The body knows what the mind is catching up to: the lip of a conch shell, long-necked bottle on the ocean floor, you all dressed up for a funeral. Eyes luminous. Full moon. The cancer hasn’t spread, or it has, or there is only waiting at the end of waiting. The shadow side of a white plate. A dying star or the hand of God. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather just breathe. There is a tall boy in the back of the room. His sister holds one white rose against her black silk bodice. The body lets loose, petals rise leaving only a shell. We hope to hear something worth knowing, the words still counting us among them.
Fragmentation Linda Cooper While the motive is usually defined as the smallest identifiable melodic idea in a composition, “compound” motives can be broken into fragments (sometimes called “germs”). —R. Hutchinson Place potting soil in each tiny pot. Do not overfill. There is a thumb-sized spot for each seed to germinate. A blanket of dirt. Water. * I saw her dark form from behind a waterfall. Spattered light and mists. Pillow moss and wild daisies. * My nephew stands on risers in the concert hall. His voice deep water and a boat. Ancestry woven in his smile, his stance, his open-mouthed fermata. * My brother still comes to me in dreams. I hear his voice again, and I lose mine. Why did we leave him alone in his little house all these years? When I wake, realization hisses and roars. * —did he who made the tiger make the lamb as well? * Once the pots are filled with soil and seed, you must water, warm, and wait until green seedlings emerge. You will check often and see nothing. * A waterfall snakes into a river and into the lake. Just below the surface, sleek salmon rise. * His father gone thirteen years, my nephew is singing a solo. The whole room quakes. * —if something is broken both ends can meet— * When you see the lively green plants first lift from the soil and stretch their little bodies toward warmth, a part of you is born. Some lie dormant. Some don’t rise. * The bear stares from the base of a tall cedar next to the lake. Up in the tree, a wide-eyed cub. Some tragedies can be avoided. Some approach with a gun. * My nephew was once a boy, then a teen, and now a man. The music, fragments of seed. History. Silence and its absence. His friends surround him on the stage. Their voices rise and build around his. * Once the seedlings flourish, prepare the plot, and plant them in rows. Some results are dependent on your actions. So much is out of your control. * —even after all this time the sun never says to the earth ‘you owe me’—
Linda Cooper lives in Ronald, Washington, where elk graze in her backyard. She completed her MFA at Eastern Washington University. Her poems have been published in Verse Daily, Hayden’s Ferry Review, West Branch, Many Mountains Moving, Willow Springs, Third Coast, Tupelo Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Hubub, Elixir, Diner, Permafrost, Pontoon, Midwest Quarterly Review, Weber Studies, Redactions, The Far Field, All We Can Hold, Railtown Almanac, and Rock and Sling. She also won the 2015 Orlando Prize for Poetry.