Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Nights I lie down in this Kansas

farm town and allow a distant ocean

to swallow my dreams: running on

the boardwalk, Mission Beach, morning fog

burned off in midday sun, the honk and clatter

of humanity, a childhood fear of palm trees,

the stir and noise of family. Lately

I swallow regret the way I once drank love

That brought me here and fell away. I wade

and wallow in winter’s dark. Days, the sky looms

large and ineluctable and the land lies quiet, flat

beneath it, accepting everything. It seems that

on the plains people learn early on the rule

of inevitability. I still argue with the clouds.

And each day as I watch the snow deepen by degrees

around the house, I know it might take time for me.

This bed is such a winter, white on white, nothing

near on either side. A chill rides all my surfaces,

mere skin can’t shift beyond the reach of Kansas wind.

Sometimes I dream a blizzard that won’t stop, that

grows and swells and covers over brittle windows,

settles high. In this dream I run from room to room,

find every window blocked by smothering snow. And

in the lull that follows I go calm at last, settle in

Amid the simple choices. The Pacific ocean

recedes into memory, and in the dark my eyelids lock

beyond old visions. I lie down then, the hard white

windows standing guard, and sleep wrapped in cool sheets

of amnesia while winter’s hard fist opens

slowly in the earth, palm warming, long fingers

stirring dormant roots that waken to a new life

easily, easily as I never could by trying.

— Patricia Traxler

From Forbidden Words, copyright Patricia Traxler, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, MO.

Author of three poetry collections including Forbidden Words (Missouri), Traxler has published her poetry widely, including in The Nation, Ms. Magazine, Ploughshares, Agni, LA Times Literary Supplement, Slate, The Boston Review, and Best American Poetry. Awards include two Bunting Poetry Fellowships from Radcliffe, Ploughshares’ Cohen Award, and a Pablo Neruda Award from Nimrod.


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