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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dear One Absent This Long While

(Wooden Bridge over a Stream, sketch
by Beatrix Potter, 1866-1943, English
writer, illustrator, sheep breeder, and
conservationist, and creator of Peter
Rabbit and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, among
many others)

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Lisa Olstein, the poet below, conducted by a representative of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). She gave her answer off the cuff.


Please revise the following sentence — “Though every muscle in his body urged him not to, Sanderson crept toward the tinted windows of the gray-green Caprice.”

Lisa Olstein:

Sanderson crept.
Every muscle, urge him
toward caprice. Urge him
forward toward windows
tinted gray-green in the body.
Urge him not to.


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.

~ Lisa Olstein, born 1972, American poet

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