1. The Three Snake Leaves
When one of us dies
let the one who lives
to steal the three leaves
from the secretest snake
and place them
gently but with haste
at the three doorways
of the cold body:
one for the right eye,
one for the left eye,
one for the mouth.
Both of us must swear to this
or neither of us can
2. Briar Rose
This is the way the world should be.
Beautiful daughters do not die.
Instead, the universe stops with her breath,
which becomes the timer for everything else,
so that, when a miracle undoes her death,
all of us — every father, every friend,
every fly on the wall, every budding leaf —
awaken to gather round her, to laugh
with joy that she is here and so are we.
About the Author: Joseph Stanton has published poetry in a wide variety of journals and anthologies including Poetry, Poetry East, New York Quarterly, Ekphrasis, and Harvard Review. His work has been collected in Imaginary Museum: Poems on Art, What the Kite Thinks, and Cardinal Points: Poems on St. Louis Cardinals Baseball. His scholarly work has appeared in such journals as American Art, Art Criticism, Journal of American Culture, and Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Stanton teaches art history and American studies at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.
Copyright © 2008 by Joseph Stanton. These poems may not be reproduced in any form without the author's express written permission.