The National Poetry Review

Carolyn Oliver


Dear one, the short irises rose
this morning, unbidden indigo
petals undulating like fan corals
into light blown around
like dust. The front door’s hot
enough to scorch bare skin.
Tomorrow: snow.

Dear one, it’s weeks until forsythias
light their beacons. I worry winter
lingers in your knuckles—swells
and sinks new roots. Once
your hands were strong,
enough to lift me, to tend me
in my withering.

Dear one, I’ll say it plain:
you kept me alive when I wanted to die.
Miles apart, I cannot touch you
but I imagine your hands sunk
wrist deep in warming earth.
May tulips rise for you soon,
splendid and painless.

CAROLYN OLIVER’s poems have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Indiana Review, Cincinnati Review, Radar Poetry, Shenandoah, Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, Cherry Tree, FIELD, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, the Writer’s Block Prize in Poetry, and the Frank O’Hara Prize from The Worcester Review, which she now serves as co-editor. Carolyn lives in Massachusetts with her family. Online:

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