Monday, June 1, 2020

Sharon Thesen : Three poems

“spring & all”

spring snow falls hard  
    winter’s long goodbye & the hours
confused by the Time Change 
     one clock says 11 the other 12 but the other
being digital     is correct     
it doesn’t feel that late     a mixture of times & weathers
of reports and seasons     of a wreath still attached to a doorway
or the red curly knobs on an orb of virus       decorative

blue stone and pink shale, spikes of yucca reliably green
winter & summer         she thought she knew the place
but didn’t      and waited for the return of her husband

from afar       while one clock ticked and the other just changed
automatically                we know which one is right

William Carlos Williams’ stiff twigs on the way to the hospital
are a sort of particular spring-brown          universal           speaking to
the many who wonder, what next?         besides growth

it’s probably not even close, the hospital     the woman
who heard the ambulance go by was a fiction       but it scared her
since she hadn’t seen her husband for quite a while

doing the mending, looking up, looking out, looking over

bringing the needle closer      the “arms” of the clock joining up
at noon and at midnight          like a pair of scissors closing


It gives me such great pleasure
to spin my office chair around to face the bookshelf
and pull out Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary
with the softening navy-blue leather covers

heavy in the hand, but happy to fall open at any page—

to look up the word laconic which I thought
described some recent poems,  but then I wondered
what laconic actually means.

It turns out it means what I thought it did,
“terseness, sparing of words.”  What a strange thing
it is to open a dictionary inherited via one’s ex-husband
in the long-ago divorce—

& to wonder how he might feel now so far away
to see his grandmother’s handwriting on the flyleaf
in blue fountain-pen ink
some words she’d wanted to look up:

nostalgia, arthritis, recluse.


Early January and I was too hot in my big coat
& black alpaca scarf that used to belong
to my husband’s stepdad George
who had always been a sharp dresser

a sales representative for Gilbey’s Gin
doing the rounds of the bars and restaurants
of post-war Vancouver and environs,
coming home late all the time

for dinner, everyone angry, eating
what had gone cold in the waiting period
that seemed, now, an inevitability

as George deteriorated and drank
having served in World War Two
on a military ship torpedoed in the Pacific

nevertheless, he was good at the barbecue grill
and kept at hand a recipe book of cocktails
and was well-spoken with a bit of a posh accent
when he was around

which was seldom.  His scarf still folds neatly
owing to the excellent quality of its fabric.
He’d unwind it as he unbuttoned his coat
and took of his hat & met the furious demeanour
of his wife with some sort of mean posh
comeback, & everyone was miserable.

Sharon Thesen is a Cascadian poet, writer, editor and Professor Emerita of Creative Writing at UBCs Okanagan campus.

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