Three Poems

By: Leigh Anne Couch




Up-piled oranges holding their own
in sidewalk bins during rush-hour;
warm bowls, pots, dishes stacked
high and dripping to the floor;
a child’s blocks in a child’s hands;
a family for that matter; its foundation
exposed to the re-routed river,
the old house with sagging shoulders
knows what it wants—but only if wanting
opens its mouth (just say the word
and I shall be yours) to receive the mystery
of its collective will to hold or not
to hold, to fall into the river or stand by.
The stories by which we live (the way
breathing out leads to breathing
in) are woven into the guy wires
that keep the snow on the rock face,
the shack on the mud embankment,
me with you. A summer day in the East Village,
through the bars of a fifth-floor window,
I see a pair of old hands behind the bars
of another high window open:
The hands, holding the bowl-
like body of a pigeon,
nudge the body through the bars into flight,
the hands gesture upward with the bird
what birds are meant to do.
But the weight remains a weight
and the hands, the bowl, the bird
withdraw into the dark room.
I have to think one day we will
(you and I) give in to the pigeon’s kind of falling.




I am warmed by the light you cannot see.
The night before I am new, I am old;
and when new, I am invisible.
Do you want beauty? Try the empty
room at the center of a peach.
I used to think I had a mechanical heart.
It misfired, was fired upon, now it’s hard
to tell the ripe from the rot: my heart
is sticky-sweet and fibrous but those
are just the walls around a perfect
space. Calling it emptiness or absence is mean.
But it is unreachable.
I need to be silent to speak.
I need to putter and dawdle and sigh
to write what I know about the moon.
I need to be apart or I will break apart,
split the heart, dig a hole and climb inside
when nobody’s looking. How much nothingness
is enough? I say, how much enough can you stand?
I say don’t give up on failure. Answer rhetorical questions.
I can hear myself blink and I am a hero
who through unsubstantiated optimism
and slackness of spirit can get through anything.
This is a lie but one I can live with.
I am warmed by the light you cannot see.
The night before I am new, I am old;
and when new, I am invisible.
I believe like the moon each of us will sublime.




I saw a tall tree lean and lounging
in the crook of another. Both
were buoyant in green and spring thriving.
Both were straight and true and yet
one rested relieved in the arms of its equal.
Succor, a word I never say
in the company of others—unsure
of its meaning, quite sure what it sounds like.
From the Latin succursus, meaning
to run to help; a noun that must be helped
by a verb, as in “to give succor,” as in
offering yourself to be loved, upheld.
To run to help: to leave to safeguard.
I’m leaving the woods to come home
to you and the bustling city we’ve made
in two-thousand square feet of split level.
For too long I needed a father.
I am relieved I chose you instead.



Leigh Anne Couch published Houses Fly Away, her first collection, with Zone 3 Press, as well as poems in many magazines including PANK, Pleiades, Gulf Coast, and Cincinnati Review. Her work has been featured in Verse Daily, Dzanc’s Best of the Web, and in The Echoing Green: Poems of Fields, Meadows, and Grasses (Penguin). Now a freelance editor, she was an editor at Duke University Press and the Sewanee Review. She lives in Sewanee, Tennessee with writer Kevin Wilson and their sons, Griff and Patch.