Throwaway Gesture

Dear, uninteresting, salt-watery tear
lurking, crouching, cringing in the corner of my eye
as if you wanted to die—
too late!
You can’t just evaporate!
You can’t not have been born, so go on, appear

here,
like that intricate cockle-burr
flung from the sweetgum tree,
now resting precariously
like a tiny mine, propped on prickles the light defines,
each snagging nylon shadows in straggling lines

across the pavement.
Such a cache of heaven-sent
discarded cockle-burrs. Well, are they
discarded? Just throwing that out there—is the tree
of the whole pinata’s-worth
disembarrassing itself to the ends of the earth,

going to such extremes
because of the climate (tossing and turning in its sweaty dreams)—
is this the ordinary seed spread, or is it masting
to increase its chance of hanging on in the everlasting
rollercoaster to come?
Multiplying its cockles in the hope that some

will catch somewhere, so we can start over again–
each gutter-clogging shadow-and-reflection
like some blotted, sodden asterisk:
redacted curse word, or security risk.
To save itself, the tree frenetically throws its code
away, away, away into the road,

but purposefully: ejection
not dejection:
all is not necessarily lost that’s thrown away
in the blink of an eye.

Jennifer Clarvoe

Jennifer Clarvoe

Jennifer Clarvoe’s first book of poems, Invisible Tender, won the Poets Out Loud Prize and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. A Rome Prize afforded her time to work on her second book, Counter-Amores. She has received fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council, the Sewanee Writers Conference, and the James Merrill House. Recently retired from teaching at Kenyon College, she lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, and is working on poems for her third book.
Jennifer Clarvoe

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Author: Jennifer Clarvoe

Jennifer Clarvoe’s first book of poems, Invisible Tender, won the Poets Out Loud Prize and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. A Rome Prize afforded her time to work on her second book, Counter-Amores. She has received fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council, the Sewanee Writers Conference, and the James Merrill House. Recently retired from teaching at Kenyon College, she lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, and is working on poems for her third book.