Rebecca Hart Olander holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poetry has appeared recently in Crab Creek Review, llanot Review, Plath Poetry Project, Solstice, SWWIM Every Day, and Yemassee Journal, among others. Collaborative work made with Elizabeth Paul is in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press) and online at Aperçus, Duende, The Indianapolis Review, Les Femmes Folles, and petrichor. Rebecca won the 2013 Women’s National Book Association poetry contest. Her first full-length collection, Uncertain Acrobats, will be published by CavanKerry Press in 2021. She lives in Western Massachusetts where she teaches writing at Westfield State University and is the editor/director of Perugia Press. You can find her at rebeccahartolander.com and @rholanderpoet.
This morning, my son taught me the Latin word for damage,
the same as apple. So I told him about knowledge, and pain
in childbirth, the way noticing one’s own nakedness can be a loss.
Then he shared the sentence: Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
Animals from New York bullying other animals from New York.
I showed him tulip bulbs, the scales, the tunic, the roots, which bushes
are the forsythia, and why they matter so much to me, those bunches
of happiness first seen by the house I lived in at seven, blooms always
downed within a week, and how the Dutchman’s Pipe vine has yellow
faces at the end of every blossom, flowers shaped like saxophones.
I asked him what it’s like to lose a soccer game, if it bothers him,
if he doesn’t like to talk about it, because I never know
what to do in those silent car rides home, words stuck in my mouth.
These conversations in between the computer and school and sleep,
in between friends and sports and head-phoned music, I wish
there were more of them. The words a wet swath on a warm day
in May, after a long winter, when from under the snow
piled up in the grocery store lot, still there in spring, and beneath
the blackened crust, a loosening, spilling across parking spaces
and surprising when traced back to the source.