Magic Lantern

Even now I am lost in that subtle fume
Of poppies and gladiolus in bloom –
          bright colors coming into focus there
          against the parlor wall, amid the glare
And smoke of the lamp, in the evening’s gloom.

Were you watching then, or were you attuned
To some other story or lullaby crooned
          at bedtime? I had encountered a place where 
                    even now I am lost.

Flowers and faces arranged on a loom
Of light, that hover and vanish as soon
          as they come into view – what could compare
          with such perishing? What greater dare
Than holding them fast? In that same dark room, 
                    even now I am lost.

Jared Carter’s forthcoming book of poems is A Dance in the Street, available in the fall of 2012 from Wind Publications in Kentucky. Wind published his previous collection, Cross this Bridge at a Walk, in 2006. His work has appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, TriQuarterly, Iowa Review, Hudson Review The Dark Horse, Prairie Schooner, and Kenyon Review. Addi­tional poems and sto­ries may be found on his web site at