j e n n i f e r    m e t s k e r

Sand and Flowers

To see a world in a grain of sand / And heaven in a wild flower, /

Hold infinity in the palms of your hand / And eternity in an hour.

                                                            - William Blake



Flowers bloom. In my brain, flowers.
Flowers bloom. The mind is a flower,
a season, a rhythm, like a stalk
of a flower bends and breaks and fills, lifting the weight
of a furious blossom, the heavy head of a mind flabbergasted
by the beauty problem. It lasts
through the night while angels sleep on their silent halos,
streetlamps on a damp night. An uptick
in numbers presents itself as a promise, then removes itself
in a failure to anticipate the sum. Flowers fall down on graves,
consolation prizes for the dying who I dream of fondly,
their long walk down a familiar corridor, their shuffling gait,
their gowns brushing floor tiles.
The corridor is littered with red lips, petals
I longed for once, a honeymoon of petals, a palace entrance.
I counted my steps in a death dance while the waters of the world
dried up and the dog kept his distance. I could have been dead.
There would have been flowers.


Walk with me along the shore
where some see misery, some see a catastrophe of sand.
Golden beaches swirling up and spin into hourglasses;
where some see misery, some see
whatever God wants them to see
as faces turn away again, faces turn away.
Clock gears tick off seconds in a chest
until the glimpse protracts into the folds.
The day parodies the glimpse,
then resolves itself in satire:
cake batter, battery charger.
None of the pleasantries or not so pleasantries
exchanged a glimmer with the same color gold.
Then nothing is gold.
The grayness of the sidewalk. The pseudo-black highways.
The correlating shapes shift their weight
and try to speak.
They are mostly restricted.


Flowers made of sand blow into the back room
where waiters loiter on a break
from an eternal shift. Flowers made of sand on tables
where philosophers sit saying if if if. I once
held a marble I thought was the world but it rolled
between a crack in the floortiles. I once
wrote a letter to God on a petal, but minutes were hours
and hours were flowers. The trees outside whisper
their tragedy: they knew Jesus as a child.
The floor is a long dark metaphor, sandblasted. No one
brings me flowers. Electrical towers
stand watch over electrical boxes and eternity
scooped into a lunch tray, eternity billowing in a curtain.
Why has God hidden his message
in grit and impossible medallions?


St. John walked on the shores of Patmos,
the white sand beaches
mimicking a body wrapped in a shroud.
A number of shapes require
dire pronouncements, like the numbers
themselves, the references to Revelations, the sand
and the flowers, those paroxysms of joy and woe.
The grain of sand produces nostalgia
for quantum abrasions, oh, those tiny calculations,
but it's hard to stick a landing in sand.
Don't wish for eternity here or anywhere dimensional.
Horses gallop in the clouds with roses in their mouths.
In my hand, a flower can be heaven and the sand
can be hell, and between them I imagine
a factory of days as delicate as sea foam
and as liminal as dying.
I close my eyes and wait
for the flower petals to arrive.



JENNIFER METSKER's poems have been published in the Southern Review, Gulf Coast, the Cincinnati Review and other journals. Most recently her work can be found in the Seattle Review, the literary anthology Seeking Its Own Level (MotesBooks), and forthcoming in Whiskey Island. She teaches writing at the University of Michigan.

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