Ann E. Michael: 2 poems

Photo by Kevin Mueller on Unsplash


(for Basquiat, for Matthew Wong)

To fit inside the shape of your art requires attention
to interiors. Your art is a hermit crab shell or a fish bowl,

presents itself as palace, nest, the ancient oak, a quill—
how will you enter it? There may be no door, no mouth,

nothing to beckon you inward the way current floats you
into the waterside cavern. Your art may be solid, no

apparent hollow middle. It may be you must change yourself
to get there, become light through glass, magnetic force,

a scorching laser, fluid, or molecular. You may need to be
as small as almost nothing, a quiver between quarks,

one tightly wound dimension spiraling into the mass of it 
just to find the genius of the place that is your art.

Settle your body into that space, spread into it, relax,
let go the competition for dominance, open what is yours

into what is the world’s. If you cannot live in the world
the world may find ways to live in your art. It is environment,

interconnected forest roots, threads of fungus, bacteria, 
spores, what we call influence when a child imagines

anything at all through the shape of your art.

Sometimes, a Brown Dormancy

Once I wished for the copperhead’s burnished attire patterned brown
like oak leaves, to be sleek-bodied and quick, but I never desired its
poison—fierce fangs not in my nature, much as I recognize their
utility. Camouflage serves predator as well as prey: I tend to slink away. 

Let me find my own fold beneath beech or hemlock where sunlight
splinters, the speckled shadows’ movement on my freckled skin.
What I reach toward even I don’t know. It’s not that I want for anything,
desires so fleeting anyway—they pass and change relentlessly.

I coil among the rocks. They’re more responsive than anyone knows,
reminding me the spell I seek is sometimes dormancy, that cool sleep.
When I am ready to be unhidden, it is the rocks that waken me, that say
now the cycle’s commenced again. And I am brilliant in new skin.

Ann E. Michael has a forthcoming chapbook, Strange Ladies (Moonstone Poetry), and is the author of six other books. She directs the writing center at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA. She’s been blogging for many years at


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