Nadine S. St. Louis: reads, writes, and gardens in Eau Claire since her millennial retirement from the UW-Eau Claire English Department. Her poetry has appeared in North Coast Review, Sesquicentennial Poetry Quilt, UpRiver, Wisconsin Academy Review, Wisconsin Poets' Calendar, and Wisconsin English Journal.

"At the mouth of the long sack we fall in forever,
Storms brighten the spikes of the stars."
--William Stafford

My Daughter Plays In Pool Tournaments

So here we've come to one of those places
your grandmother would never let me see--
smoked air and wood and green felt,
low-slung lights wearing Chinese coolie hats,
a football-team's worth of young men
in varying states of disrepair,
intently sucking smoke, chalking cues,
plotting their attacks with experienced eyes;

and me--
sipping warm beer and astonishment--
watching you--

your autumn-red braid and great legs
drawing an exclamation point of concentration
against the table's edge, as you calculate
a tough angle, applying laws of physics
painstakingly learned, and English I never taught,
dropping colors by the numbers
off the side and into the pocket;

possibly, faintly, aware of this,
your mother's mental voice, observing,
your grandmother would have been so proud.

Originally published in North Coast Review, 1995. Copyright 1994 by Nadine S. St. Louis

Snow Country Geometry

right angles of fencepoles too subtle
a message to neighborhood children
do not walk here where iris, day
lilies, and oregano have declared
truce for their five months' nap;

acute angles in connect-the-dots
pawprints where adventurous rodents
run squirrelly races to draw
back the sun or work out February

nest fever; oblique angles and parallel
lines from a wakeful rabbit searching
porch, garage, and garden for suspected
snacks; tight circles in tipsy bluejay

tracks under red-berried mountain ash,
nature's vintners cold and thaw
throwing a party for this freezing sphere.

Published in Sierra newsletter and Muir View 1996; Copyright 1996 by Nadine S. St. Louis


She stands on the runway at the county airport,
smaller than I'd expected.
She seemed a giant to the young men
who took her on her regular run
along the city walls of hell.

A ladder against her sunwarm side
gives entry to aliens, admission three dollars.
We appreciate the contribution.

Ms. Pfeiffer's fourth-grade class
stare puzzled at the half-naked lady
emblazoned on the shining hide.
Those famous legs were once insured
for a million bucks, they say,
but they stood here as a reminder
of everything the young men loved back home.

Boys of sixteen and women seventy remark
how slim the passage
down her throat,
shuddering to think
how it would be to squirm
into the bubble on her underside,
gasping to conceive the void
under the deadly eggs she bore.
The young men tried not to think too hard
about the line between air and fire.

On the tarmac the old men
with pot bellies and arthritic knees
look on with yesterday's eyes, still
staring into the smoke and scarlet
of her volcano world.

Originally published in a slightly altered form in the Proceedings of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, 1996; Copyright 1995 by Nadine S. St. Louis