An Exercise in Scales
Jim Richards

An Exercise in Scales

Light loves you, woman,
this morning, makes your
shape like sheets in sweet
wind. Come to me as
clay to wet hands, as
blue crows to the crushed
snake on the roadside.


Light loves you, woman.
This is the oath I’ve
shaped my life to, as
wind shapes stone, water
clay. At you, the bold
blue skies blush, and the
snakes all shed their skin.


Light loved you! Why then
this grave and stone? Your
shapes disintegrate;
wind strolls over the
clay that cradles your
blue skin. My brains—balled
snakes floating offshore.


Light is longer than
this time we call love,
shape more solid than
a woman of wind.
When the clay dries, breaks,
a new form grows a tongue.
Words swallow the worms.

Jim Richards

has recently contributed to Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, South Carolina Review, Juked, Comstock Review, and Poet Lore and has had poems nominated for Best New Poets and the Pushcart Prize. He lives in eastern Idaho’s Snake River valley and has received a fellowship from the Idaho Commission on the Arts.