Poem by Maison Demuth Olson
After Steve Healey
I can live if it is rushing in flurries toward
lamplight and if all the streetlights that shut down
near the university are covered with grey cloth
by a maintenance man — really a sculptor, his fingers
molding tiny red electrical wires — and if I can remember
the first time picking wild raspberries as the taste
at the tip of your tongue, a state park somewhere out there
in Minnesota. A tartan shirt ripped up like a tent tarp.
The lights blink and blink at me and I don’t know
what to say. They are yellow
the way Martin’s gums
were yellow, all at once, all in the same tone. They keep
asking me questions like if you’re in Alaska or lost
in someone else’s poems. Last night I dreamt my mother
had died and you were there at the funeral in a black bandana,
lowering me down into a ratty apartment. When I go
to the sink to wash my hands and look out
the window, the backyard is flooded, pneumonic,
and the water pressure frightens me back to sleep.
Where the heater in the basement is so much like your breath,
hot on my neck as your teeth mark it to purple, that when I get up
at night to open the refrigerator door you are suddenly glowing.
The 2015 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry
We are pleased to announce this poem as a finalist for the 2015 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry, honoring the independent press’ best poems and hybrid works of the year. The winners are selected by an external panel that judges all pieces blind and chooses the full list of 12 finalists from hundreds of entries. Alternating Current does not determine the final outcome for the judging; the external judges’ decisions are final.
MAISON DEMUTH OLSON is the recipient of the 2014 Andrea K. Willison Prize for Poetry and Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets Fellowship. Olson’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as the Westchester Review, Poiesis Review, december magazine, metazen, and the Sarah Lawrence Review. From 2011–2014, Olson chaired the Spoken Word Collective at Sarah Lawrence College and served as a managing director for the college’s annual Poetry Festival.
Originally published on The Spark on 8/25/15.