Wanda Waldera © 2014 All Rights Reserved

Lean Times

Endurance, motion elevates this evening, times
the sealing of the last impressive book. Bad times

find their way into our matted directives, syntax
of sandstorms wrestling sandstorms: sure, times

have changed—once drag-racing, we outpaced
each other, wing on wing. Suffered, nine times out

of ten bracing wind-hardened backs. Now, glass
beak opens, whistle spits, no more. Lean times

take slivers from candelabra, turn a city’s elegance
to brown. Listless, ocean-bound, I’ve spent days

in times of drowning—I’ve listened to the echoes
catch on bone, tendons undermined. Bad times

make even sane girls glimmer, make whooshing
noises: who reckons her body’s best? Three times

moving’s as bad as a fire, said the woman: I’ve said
enough, assessed enough complaints. Those times

that words fled my tongue, brittle nights shattered:
the only rhyme that picked me up was glass. Times

for weeping coincide with danger: gardens, tears
hide the beat arrival of flames. I’ve wiped the times

tables from my mind, fairy tales from my repertoire—
who loves the toe’s blood, lace-chapped, the times

scissors sprang up from the prince’s hands? Forget
the hundred miles, the hours’ travel: unleash times

of grief from the locked-up wood. Forget the meals
left uncooked, drifted morning. Multiply lunchtimes

by twenty, breakfasts by ten. No one will ask again
what happens during: I call it a sign of the times.



If, in the grieving
                patch, widow-
                        filaments attempt
to have us notice
not at all—if in the domino
                                of sound-
clanging sound, spine
flexes,             wind hits
back end
        of womb—if
the doorway’s
salient arches
        sally open,
bones plucked
        from us,
widened wings,
chapping brink of bricked
windows, spurned
over, guarded
        by men—
        if webbed
palms caught
        these last hours,
out of where
        they had to be—
if every mourner
                    shadow-slept, if
flipped ashen
hocked off
        low-lying leaves,
cracked shavings,

Rebecca Givens Rolland
Copyright © 2014  

Rebecca Givens Rolland’s first book of poems, The Wreck of Birds, won the 2011 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize. Recently her poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review, Fourteen Hills, and Cincinnati Review.

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