Ode to Graph Paper, or, Questions for the Cardinal

by | Oct 1, 2013 | Poetry








Little squares           crossed hatch           checkerboard,           black and white


tile floor laid out      in quadrants,            double axes,              intersections, I love


how you cross           each other                 perpendicular           like that, love


your 90-degree         angles, right              elbow bent up,         palm running parallel


to the tree,                 saying  Yes                 I see you rising,       roots witness to rain,


limbs reaching       from columns,              listening                    to the quiet equations,


wooden monks        chanting                       to a girl,                      the word OM


inked in black           along her spine,        the center of her        back, in numbers


and coordinates:       the word                      a reminder                  plotted (0,0)


which does not         translate into            two nothings                next to another


on a train, but           the place where        negative meets             positive space,


where a breath          threads itself            through this                  earthy fabric,


where bones build    adobe, and red         gymnast birds               hop back and forth


on electrical wires    drawn like                 pencil lines                    through sky—


O, little wingspan,    little horizon            fluttering                        in the air:


were you there            the morning              man rose                        vertical to face


the sea? Was it           a night like this,       little bird,                      was there a moon


like this one                when you were          patched to blue            quilt of sky?


Does a song                rise and fall                according to                  its slope? Tell me—


do the notes                move, left to                 right, like beads           inside your throat?



Photo By Kris Bolton

About The Author

Maggie Graber

Maggie Graber is an M.F.A. candidate at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Her chapbook, Beads, was a finalist in the 2012 Button Poetry Exploding Pinecone Chapbook Contest, and her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Toad, Utter, Avatar Review, and Gingerbread House among others. She loves Lake Michigan.