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Cynthia Grier Lotze

About the Poet

Cynthia Grier Lotze is currently at work on a book-length poem entitled Baedeker for Comets. Her shorter poems can be found in publications such as Harpur Palate, Sycamore Review, Versal, Opium, and Makeout Creek

She teaches Creative Writing and British and Middle Eastern Literatures at St. Catherine’s School, lives in Richmond, Virginia, and loves teaching high school sophomores to write Metaphysical poetry. 

Spring 2013 Poems »

When you want to be the only owner
of something, keep the way to get it

a secret. Start with geometry: deny
parabola, if applicable. Insert

the inapplicable: sea winds, all
terrestrial properties of uselessness, charted

temperatures for the last century
in the Congo. Elk migration, Irish

migration, Greenwich Mean Time, cloud
formation, morning dew, river over

the banks, sun over the shoulder. Turn
three times into the wind if northerly; adjust

telescope accordingly. In the event
a bright young thing in petticoats determines

it all – the comet’s graceful swing
around Jupiter, a uniform velocity indisputable, her math

a wonder upon butcher’s paper, papering her attic
walls, her parabolas’ intersection beyond

contention – point out she’s a girl, disappear
yourself. Your work here is done.




When Stella prays she feels like a woman
in a movie who is praying; her hands

are the heaviest part of her; they are clasped,
or the fingers are woven, or she is

in the woods with her palms on moss
on a boulder around which a birch

has put all the limbs that usually stretch
under the ground, but these above sit

astride a quartz like a many-legged god,
which is why Stella is praying in the first

place. If there are gods, they are
aesthetes and would live here, with everyone

else gone down the path, their talk
becoming smaller, Stella’s ears

filled mercifully with damp silence, her finger
tips ecstatic against the rock, but the prayer

she wants is a word she cannot find, and her face
wears the experiment as her lips noiselessly shape

each inaccuracy, and Peter in his quiet shoes
and carrying his silent heart like something igneous

inside the root system of his chest stands
on the path where he paused when the thud

of Stella’s feet ceased behind him. He has
stopped, he has not turned, her petition

so aware of itself it rebounds
against him as though she has aimed,

as though it were to him she has
prayed. He knows her hands

heavy and pleading on the soft,
mutable notches of his spine, her entry

into the knot of him so simple
every time.



She, Too
  …that owl
is wild. I must tell
my daughter. She’ll want to name him
something human and pretend she, too,
wakes up at night and watches the city
with feathers at her sides.
  James Moore, The Freedom of History 1

They say I begin in one way, talk myself under
branches and through rivers. I cleared a path

to you, though, to end in this way. They say
we none of us do anything we do

not want to do. They started saying
this about me. Do not doubt

it for a moment, my daughter, I
moved first from my collar

bone, as though jerked suddenly
by a string; then I walked, slowly,

pushing my arms through thickets;
then I ran, not caring what slashed

at me – I had a blade too, and used it
like a woman who defends her home

against a snake. You may begin
by saying I did not want you. You

would be right; that is how
it began.



Sidereus Nuncius

Do not conflate celestial anomaly
with sentience. Laugh, but you’ll do it –

watch. When, after years of mystery, the sky
you began to invest with selfness discloses

itself to you, four objects with their own
motion, bodies’ flagrant defiance

of law, a center not found
in the center of you, do not

birth cosmic cognition in the heat
of a new physics. You will have ground

the lenses for months, aimed
to see a hair’s breadth with shaking

arms night after night. Diligence itself
will take on presence and quirks; you

may be tempted to name it, your effort
like a friend beside you, the scientist

whose notes are precise, equations
compassing both human warmth

and accuracy. You have an inclination
to name everything. Do not allow

your labor to fill the space
in you reserved for beings. Moons are not

Medicis. Medicis are
not gods. Gods are not within

your power to conjure, to map,
to gather for science, to lasso

for tenure. Gods beyond
Earth will not hear

in the years when you begin
to beg for mercy.


Cynthia Grier Lotze ~

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