The Reckoner

K. Hazzard


How quiet can it be between two people,
between two sides of a page

Where, nearby, is there a Sumerian lyre of Ur

Is that its neck there, is this the cedar soundbox

Are those its arms, inlaid with lapis lazuli and red limestone

To have seen it whole, who would you be

How far from paper to a slanted hand,
from the living to the barely dead

How many books can fill a head

Do sentences surround it, then attack

Do they move toward it finally,
the way a mouse in a long-closed-up house
contents herself with soap

When there is talk, how small is it

Are the people small too, is the talk loud to them

How small if so, how loud, on what kind of scale

                Quick flash of red, a tri-cornered hat,
                a wide belt’s flat back

                And the little clicks of an abacus

Is it the reckoner passing, through the long grass

K. Hazzard has published poems in Best of Writers at Work, Columbia, Helicon, In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is the co-founder of Electronic Poetry Review.