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.