November 2016

The Act of Sweeping

          by L. R. Berger

Clay Sculpture, Jane Kaufman

Clay Sculpture, Jane Kaufman


A woman is sweeping her porch

as if life depended on it,


dowsing for counsel

through the press


of an old broom, through

some small sure act


she can be certain

does no harm.


Wind rouses, loosening leaves

from even the stiffest branches,


and sets the tiny

green boat on the bay


rocking like our wavering

scales of justice.


She could be paddling

herself across. Wind


sweeps the porch. A crow

who walked the plank


bobs on one quivering

wrist of pine—


springs off, as if to dive,

but rises.


—from The Unexpected Aviary (Deerbrook Editions, 2003)

L.R.Berger’s collection of poems, The Unexpected Aviary, received the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry. She’s been the grateful recipient of fellowships and support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the PEN New England Discovery Award, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, the Blue Mountain Center, Wellspring, and The American Academy in Rome. With Kamal Boullatta, she assisted in the translation from the Arabic of “Beginnings” by Adonis (Pyramid Atlantic Press). She lives and writes in New Hampshire within earshot of the Contoocook River.