She swam to death and death ran her aground,
Delivered earth, a dry land at her feet.
Late drowned in salt she beat her blood’s retreat
To bargain circulation back around:
A dozen births Anne Donne undone. Unwound,
Compound—she wasn’t done with this conceit
While language lasted or her breath held heat
And she gave more to meter out the sound.
Posit word made flesh, flesh nailed to wood,
Wood struck in stone, stone chiseled back to words
Spoken by a voice entwined with birds
Who peck at limestone grapes, their beaded food.
Inhabitants of gaps in a curling universe,
They stand for us, or we for something they rehearse.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.