Dora Malech
Photo by Annie Spratt

Clematis, sweet pea, sweet alyssum, 
sweet asylum, 

adornment’s adamant 
heaven scent 

to bed an arbor’s 

yes this 

reaching toward 
its own reward,  

sweet re-aching might redeem 
what seems  

a frail unfurling to refuge 
instead, re-fugue 

played in contrapuntal context
shows some pragmatist’s thanks 

not only as noun and verb, but stem, climbing 

aster and hydrangea, honeysuckle, 
wisteria, twine and tendril 

reaching skyward 

as if to pick 
a warden’s lock, 

as if jazz hands, spirit fingers, 
fireworks, as our shared shards glitter 

on this floodlit stage left empty and the river rising like ovation 
out of whose rush and rake and raze and refuse grows again  

these petals, pleats, sequins, 
pirouettes, curtsies, and klieg-eyed bowers, sure-fired lines 

run to sun’s stunning 
statement piece, peals on which an hour slips under 

the higher wire 
and over 

the big top we make 
of what’s at stake, 


corkscrewing up to pour more sunlight, 

the act 
we make of the temporary fact of us.


This poem incorporating the theme of gratitude was written in celebration of The Englert Theatre in Iowa City and read at the October 2014 event “Celebrating Local: 10 Years of the New Englert.”

Dora Malech is the author of Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011) and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009).