Brian Sneeden


Mist Burial


                                    I bury you in the heron’s eye.

Who will tell me
           when the birds come again to Patmos,
singing the song of bitter lemons
over the water.
           Or when a fisherman
pulls up some statue from the harbor
caught in his net—
           Our Lady of the Vanishing Sorrow,
Lady of the Forgotten Name—
with half of her face eaten
           by drachma-fish
and moonlight. Who will say
at night, when the spark of a woman
           lighting a match in a doorway
opens for a moment
the sea,
           like a goatherd’s lamp
in a field at dusk, drunk,
stumbling in alertness.
           At dawn the last boat
comes back
with urgent news for someone
           and the air changes
inside the porticos,
around the hands pressing open
           and closing the shutters—who will say
which silence
has taken root, and if it is the same one
           you told me
grows at the foot of the volcano
once a lifetime,
           and when it ripens
takes the voice of a young girl
and buries it
           half in the air and half in the sea.




Brian Sneeden’s first collection of poems, Last City, is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press (2018). His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry JournalHarvard Review, TriQuarterlyVirginia Quarterly Review, and other publications, and translations of his poems have been published in international magazines in Greek, Albanian, and Serbian. He received his MFA from the University of Virginia, where he held a Poe/Faulkner Fellowship in creative writing and served as poetry editor for Meridian. He is the senior editor of New Poetry in Translation.