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"Study for the Ridgeline Blue in Winter"

by cold water, poems by Chris Dombrowski

Throbs up from the darkening draws, eluding
dusk's clutch. Calls out and the owl
calls back, answering with her own ample koan.
When the world was flat we thought darkness
fell. Now we know it rises firelike from earth,
spindling up the oaks' trunks, engulfing
ridge and canopy.
                      The resulting smoke, then—
hue of a breath exhaled by a late-arriving disciple
come to examine the charred chaos of day
(such a staunch monk!) igniting itself again—
the odorless remains.
                       Then. The hanging
particulate (try not to breathe it in). A mute coyote's
coat flecked with snow. Clear, cold-drawn
tear. Two children escaping with the last
unshattered mirror. Signals from which they send
to no one all night—no, no one—until dawn.


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Born in Michigan, Chris Dombrowski received his MFA from the University of Montana. His publications include the chapbook Fragments with Dusk in Them (2008), and the collections By Cold Water (2009), in which "Study for the Ridgeline Blue in Winter" was published, and Earth Again (2013). His honors include the Associated Writing Programs Intro Award and Alligator Juniper’s National Poetry Prize. His poems have been anthologized in Joyful Noise: An Anthology of American Spiritual Poetry (2006).

Chris Dombrowski has taught at the University of Montana and the Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he was a writer-in-residence. He lives in Missoula, Montana.

Hear Chérie Newman's interview with Chris Dombrowski for The Write Question.

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