Journal of Writing & Environment

Opacity opens up rooms – Amy Clampitt


We see like treed buntings through papery maples.

Though thinner than leaf,

though more chaotic than their

scherenschnitte edges,

your veil tames us,

summons our mothered bodies,

swaddled and naïve, lips numbed

by the steam beckoning the entire valley,

the last of the hydrangeas and rose, the spindly

rails of the turn-of-the-century porch steps,

those cobbles encasing footsteps from 1863.

Frederick Douglass walks to Horticulture Hall

on the bricks of High Street and we drive

past this locus everyday, our Volkswagen crosses

the ethereal wagon wheels to pre-K, to Target,

to the Philadelphia Runner for new Adidas.

Trill and hymn mingle in fog,

and his muscular voice sits thick in these

low and historical clouds.

When we can’t see, we are resigned

to trust our footing with tentative flower,

bracing for tree limbs and sudden apparitions

of simple buildings that were always there,

yet somehow in fog,

they startle us.