Kathleen Ossip

The Beautiful Box is empty.

Several theories make their ascent from the valley this Holy Week. The spider reels on
a diamond chain, the swift in the pasture a bandit of green. The eglantines mass and
turn heavy, and we ask you, Nature, Human Nature, o Monumental Indifference, for
your urgent reply.

                        I had a little nut tree
nothing would it bear
                        but powers of invention
 and a little tear.

The Great Man drifts in and severs my longing (which I haven’t made use of, not one
bit), more pathetic than infinity, more sincere than an egg and spoon race. What you
notice is what you trust: Close familiarity, or brilliance? He makes me sally forth into a
field of quarters, filthy and sweet, each coin a pleasure. I don’t gather them, I pass his
test.

                                                                                                            This close

familiarity inserts a layer of formality, like lace. We manipulate symbols awhile, an
activity slipped into as easily as we slip into our eye color. Oh, the valley, the field are
symbols! Unneedful maybe of a guide on my dark journey, confident of certain
powers, I don’t

understand too much, always a good strategy.

Wendy XuKathleen Ossip is the author of The Cold War, which was named one of Publishers Weekly's best books of 2011; The Search Engine, which was selected by Derek Walcott for the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize; and Cinephrastics, a chapbook of movie poems. Poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Poetry, Paris Review, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, American Poetry Review, the Washington Post, The Believer, A Public Space, and Poetry Review (London). She teaches at The New School. She was a founding editor of LIT, and she's the poetry editor of Women's Studies Quarterly. She has received a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.