For My Wife on Her Birthday


She goes to bed
as Sleeping Beauty
and wakes up
as all of the Seven Dwarfs

in some older rendition
where they are
seven orphans kidnapped, 
escaped into hiding, or

errant knights
each with a different charm
or task, or coppiced
by a curse
in which there must
be horses, a glass coffin,
blood on snow

or seven monks
in singlets, cutting firewood
while reciting esoteric
verses, saints

because there must be saints
blue with cold or radiant
with tongues of flame
who swear and foreswear
seven sins.

One who sells apples.
One who walks backward
with faggots in her arms,
speaking Irish.

One who recollects
dreams of fleeing soldiers,
of sisters, a kitchen, a stolen child.

One who remembers
however trifling:
initials on a kerchief
laces on a boot
a bell on a bicycle

first lines
parting words
the smell of a man
what everyone said.


Daniel Lusk is author of six poetry collections, the most recent The Vermeer Suite  (Wind Ridge Books, 2015) and The Shower Scene from Hamlet (Maple Tree Books, 2017). Winner of a 2016 Pushcart Prize for his genre-bending essay “Bomb” (New Letters) and other awards, besides Off the Coast, his poems and stories also appear in The Café Review, Massachusetts Review, Poetry Ireland Review, North American Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, and other journals. He lives in Vermont with his wife, Irish poet Angela Patten.