ragged edge magazine online



Issue 1




By Constance Merritt


Mortals dwell in that they receive the sky as sky. They leave to the sun and the moon their journey, to the stars their course, to the seasons their blessing and their inclemency; they do not turn night into day nor day into a harassed unrest.

-- Martin Heidegger

I wished as men wish: "May this day be different!"/ The birds were wishing, as birds wish -- over and over,/ . . . / "May this day be the same!"

-- Randall Jarrell

Dear God, this dusk

your sky has gone

salmon and slate blue,

and this alone

would be blessedness --

to lie here in the quiet

intent upon a page

I cannot read,




this alone

would be blessedness --

not only salmon sky

and this your bluest hour,

but more so, grace

that turns these tired eyes

windowward to search

the common day.


I think that I could live

joyfully in days,

in seasons and in days,

but it's a long walk to freedom

and history's a blood

hound at my heels.


(The river is wide

I can't cross o'er

Neither have I

Wings to fly . . . )

Meanwhile, the future

loads its shiny revolver,

holds cold metal flush

against the temple

of blessedness; the present



         and worry,


     and scurry,


plans, plans, plans, plans;

the gift a burden, a stone

in the belly where breath

and sun had been . . .




The day as gift, the day as burden;

Whose wish she woke with: bird's or man's


What could all that matter

After the shattering


She imagined?


And it was not the future

She so feared,

Nor was it the past,

But the world that waited


(Rowdy commerce

And loud

Clamoring) --


Crouched, she would have said,

Crouched like some soul-

Hungry mechanical beast --


Just outside her door,

A beast that would

(Of this she was quite sure),

Were she to rise

and take the staircase down . . .




Long since,

Her eyes have drained

The final dregs

Of color from the sky.


Inside the colors

Warmed her;

left her calm.



She would not rise,

Would not go down,

But would remain


In the house of light,

Where birds chitter

And sing each morning,

Their passionate wish

Her wish.

Constance Merritt


Constance Merritt is the winner of the 1999 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry for A Protocol for Touch, her first collection of poems. Her sonnet sequence, "Song: At The Edge of The Sea" receivef the 1999 Hugh J. Luke Award from Prairie Schooner.

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