Three Highways

Dusk: two boys single file
carry themselves, their arms
crescent moons under trees
humbled by moths’ winter webs.
Bulbous, tumbling out of
the rockface, ambuscades of ice.


Half-broken house lists into another
spent field. Geese battalions muster
over the marsh. Beyond the reeds
an islet of ice, eyeful of a piano
webbed mildew green. Blurred
figures stranded under a sign.


River ice breaks up into geometries.
Unreadable too a form passing
against the sky. (In one of the wars
soldiers wore horizon blue.)
Something not earthly, a boy replies.
Something only he sees. Not the moon.





Carolyn Oliver is the author of The Alcestis Machine (Acre Books, forthcoming fall 2024) and Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble (University of Utah Press, 2022; selected for the Agha Shahid Ali Prize). Her most recent chapbook is Night Ocean (Seven Kitchens Press, 2023). Her poems appear in Copper Nickel, Poetry Daily, Prelude, Southern Indiana Review, Consequence, and elsewhere. She lives in Massachusetts. For additional information, visit

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