ROBERT GIBB’s books include “After,” which won the 2016 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize and “Among Ruins,” which won Notre Dame’s Sandeen Prize in Poetry for 2017. Other awards include a National Poetry Series title (“The Origins of Evening”), two NEA Fellowships, a Best American Poetry and a Pushcart Prize. A new book, “Sightlines,” has won the Prize Americana for Poetry.

Tom Quirk

White beard and shaved head,A Merton-monkish masterWhose watercolor class put meThrough the wringer with itsTwenty-painting requirementFor my slow painstaking work.Impossible, and not just at first,But he kept me at it, down-Playing my complaints, offeringMaddening encouragements.By mid-term I’d begun to setMy figures against ever starkerBackgrounds till they wereBacked by nothing except The paper’s sheer white nap—A blankness …

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i. That severe unspoken savor she’d bring with her To the table, family gatherings after grace, Your plate filled, as always, With whatever had passed through her hands— The aunt who’d married wearing weeds, A black-clad Bride of Christ. Mantle, habit, scapular, guimpe . . . No wonder we called them penguins. In school they …

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