Dear One Absent This Long While
BY LISA OLSTEIN
It has been so wet stones glaze in moss;
everything blooms coldly.
I expect you. I thought one night it was you
at the base of the drive, you at the foot of the stairs,
you in a shiver of light, but each time
leaves in wind revealed themselves,
the retreating shadow of a fox, daybreak.
We expect you, cat and I, bluebirds and I, the stove.
In May we dreamed of wreaths burning on bonfires
over which young men and women leapt.
June efforts quietly.
I’ve planted vegetables along each garden wall
so even if spring continues to disappoint
we can say at least the lettuce loved the rain.
I have new gloves and a new hoe.
I practice eulogies. He was a hawk
with white feathered legs. She had the quiet ribs
of a salamander crossing the old pony post road.
Yours is the name the leaves chatter
at the edge of the unrabbited woods.
About the author
(Retrieved from https://www.poetryfoundation.org).
Lisa Olstein is the author of four poetry collections: Radio Crackling, Radio Gone (Copper Canyon Press, 2006), winner of the Hayden Carruth Award; Lost Alphabet (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), a Library Journal best book of the year; Little Stranger (Copper Canyon Press, 2013), a Lannan Literary Selection; and Late Empire (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). Her chapbook, The Resemblance of the Enzymes of Grasses to Those of Whales Is a Family Resemblance (2016), was selected by Shane McCrae for an Essay Press prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Nation, American Letters & Commentary, The Volta, and Boston Review. Her honors include a Pushcart Prize, a Lannan Writing Residency, and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Centrum.
Olstein earned a BA from Barnard College and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, undertaking additional studies at the Aegean Center for Fine Arts and Harvard Divinity School. She co-founded and for ten years directed the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she also served as associate director of the MFA program. Currently, she is an associate editor for Tupelo Quarterly, a contributing editor for jubilat, and advisor for Bat City Review. A member of the poetry faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, Olstein currently teaches in the New Writers Project and Michener Center for Writers MFA programs. She is also the lyricist for the rock band Cold Satellite.