Marcia Hurlow | Two Poems

A Question

I won’t tell you his answer.
As I sat with my father
perched on the concrete back steps,
my eight-year-old self shivered.
Just as in my science book,
stars in the cloudless sky
had colors, red ages, blue eons,
gold, white. Their marked
mortality vibrated
like fireflies over the newly
plowed-under cornfield. Smoke
from Dad’s cigarette, wispy
veil over his squinting eyes,
thinning hair, and my question
as all I saw breathed like one
factored creature: “Is Earth God?”


About Paradise

–Isaiah 55:8

And now for “paradise,”
a definition not schooled
on Sunday. Less lovely
than “pair of dice,” the three
round syllables ending
in a hiss and the roll
of chance. We avoid
the false etymology:

a parallel with God
or an earthly beloved,
the perfect expanse in
gold inlay and satin,
the miles of lush foliage
to coax imagination
into an architecture
and a population
to suit the human mind.

From the Persian: walled in
by bricks kneaded like dough
rising above our line
of sight. Paradise: a point
beyond what one soul
can attain by its sole
invention, still too many
visions short of insight.

Marcia L. Hurlow is the author of six collections of poetry. Her most recent chapbook, Brushstrokes on Water, was published by Finishing Line Press in January, and her full-length collection, Anomie, won the Edges Prize at WordTech. Her poems have appeared in various journals, including Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Nimrod, Poetry Wales, Stand, Miramar, The Iconoclast, Hawaii Pacific Review, Malahat Review and Mudfish.