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Inquiry Method by Lisa Bickmore

                                                August 2015

In the evening there was no one here,
no groundskeeper nor teacher nor analyst,
just one woman with her dog, and us,
walking around. The failing light just caught

the Sky Grass’s blades, so that it
in turn could reflect its blue; we saw the dry
outline on the sycamore leaf. Buildings
shut up, the sun gilding their glass. Canal

water on the northern edge gliding
west, away from the river. When does
any story start? Tomorrow, the hour
appointed for beginning arrives,

the ritual with which we comply,
upon which we are fixed: the noise we make
of beginning, obscuring the chance-composed
music of a thousand quieter

commencements: they will arrive on that day,
each from her own neighborhood, family,
circumstance. She will have arranged for her
shift to begin when her two classes end.

He will have taken his little boy
to daycare. She wants to go to law school.
He wants to farm as his father did,
but in a better way. Another

holds hope like a small amulet he dares
not show anyone. For some, it’s a murmur,
song made of a laptop opening,
the retrieval of a pen, the unzipping

of a backpack. The fermata, just before
a teacher walks in, uncaps a marker,
writes something on a whiteboard and turns
to speak her name. When does it begin,

the scraping together of money, the desire
powering each arrival, the hazard
of effort and aim and will for a
barely trusted future? You walk here too,

just before the sky gets dark, in the quiet
fields crossed by walkways, lined with trees, heat
still rising from where it has soaked into
the very earth. If you listen closely,

you can hear it already, the beautiful
and difficult hum of work underway,
in a thousand distinct modes: we may call
this, this place, a beginning, but it is not

the first, nor will it be the last, incident
in the record: and if you listen
you can hear their accounts,
a minim of each single song: the clocks

in the classroom are not yet ticking,
or at least we can’t yet hear their driving
measures: for now, we only sense the soon
to arrive, their still potent dreams as yet

unspoken—or unspoken to us.
When do their stories begin, we ask, and
I will tell you: all stories have always
already begun, but they also always

begin now.

 - Lisa Bickmore
SLCC Poet Laureate 
Associate Professor of English

(NOTE: The poem makes reference to the name of the sculpture sited outside the east wall of the Science and Industry Building. The name of that sculpture is ‘Sky Grass.’)

Lisa Bickmore attended Brigham Young University where she received a B.A. (1979) and an M.A. (1984) in English, and did graduate work at the University of Utah. An associate professor in the English Department, she teaches composition, creative writing, and writing studies courses.

Lisa’s book of poems Haste was published by Signature Press, and her scholarly and creative work has been published in such journals as Teaching English in the Two-Year College, The Bedford Sourcebook on Multimodal Composition, Tar River Poetry, Caketrain, Hunger Mountain Review, Terrain and Quarterly West. Her poem 'Eidolon' was awarded the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize in 2015. She was awarded the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Artist Award for the Literary Arts in 2008. Her book flicker is the winner of the 2014 Antivenom Prize (forthcoming from Elixir Press, January 2016).

Her current interests include digital forms of composition, the constantly shifting landscape of digital and print publication, and the power of narrative in argument, as well as a deep and abiding commitment to seeing movies in theaters as often as is humanly possible.

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