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Reading and Writing

by Anne Whitehouse

after Virginia Woolf


Their boat tossed on the waves,

and when he looked up,

it was not to see anything,

but to pin a thought more exactly.

Then his eyes flew back again

and he plunged into his reading,

tossing over page after page.


From her hand, ice cold, held deep in the sea,

there spurted up a fountain of joy,

and the drops fell here and there

on the dark, slumbering shapes

of an unrealized world turning in darkness,

catching here and there, a spark of light.


Let it come, if it will come—

the jar on the nerves, the thing

before it has been made anything.


Her thought expanded like a leaf in water

standing on its end with gold-sprinkled waters

flowing in and about it—

a little island rocked round by waters.

She gazed over the sea, at the island.

The leaf looked small and distant.

It was losing its sharpness.

Dabbling her fingers in the water,

she murmured dreamily, half asleep.


A row of rocks showed brown and green

through the water, and on a higher rock,

a wave broke, spurting up a column of drops

which fell down in a shower,

and they listened to the slap and patter,

the hushing and hissing sounds

of the waves rolling and gamboling

and slapping the rocks like wild creatures

who had tossed and tumbled

and sported like this forever.


Frail and blue, the leaf-shape

stood on end on a plate of gold

like the vapor of something

that had burnt itself away.


About the Author:

AWonEagle headshot8-17Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press, 2016). She has also written a novel, Fall Love, which is now available in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes by Compton Press. Recent honors include 2017 Adelaide Literary Award in Fiction, 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’ Poems of Gratitude Contest, 2016 RhymeOn! Poetry Prize, 2016 F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Prize. She lives in New York City.


Archive, The River

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