It is raining at the beach
and the deer hide behind the hedges
in the soundproof arbor. The dog stares
up at you in wonder. The car
is stuffed with pillows and blankets.
If the journey is the destination,
and we are on the road not taken,
does that mean that we are always
moving and never getting there or
completely still and exactly where we belong?
There are two worlds, contentment and desire.
One burns cigarette holes in your best shirt
the other substitutes habit for anxiety.
That is the dilemma, anyway: to hold on or let go.
Waiting for the mail to arrive, for new movies
for the last word, we stir time in a big pot sitting
on the stove cooking slowly. Waiting for love to
simmer, everything ready at the right moment.
All the glass and wood have been dug out of our
bodies. It’s okay to stay home and miss the dance.
We are looking into the face of the day
as the words fall off the professors
and splash into pools of bright colors
and splatter us with images of things
we cannot name and never come to know
And that’s just the start. Later, our strange
and simple thoughts seem to swim in a sea
of black-and-white nudes, piling up in
every corner, behind every curtain, whispering
salty secrets of another history in another life
Cabbage & Jam
Between word and meaning, the land
rolls down beyond the hidden arbor
where the clothesline waits in secret
where the cousins line up for the quiz
show and Lotto, where I sit by the phone
and computer expecting any minute
to hear from you, somewhere off
the grid, maybe sick, maybe blue,
how should I know? I just need for you
to call me, baby, and help to see me through
Journeys cut me off from you.
I come from another era but arrive in your zip code.
I never go away and leave you without food
such as chocolate-covered strawberries.
If only, you say. If only, I say back to you.
The truth was just here a minute ago
full of an argument that has now been set free,
as were we. What went wrong: nothing went wrong.
I always fall in love with you in June.
It’s in the stars, in the script, on the fridge.
You go to bed too early, I go too late.
Sometimes we slip on the ice in the cold night.
We slip on the ice and fall. We come home
in the freezing rain and take a pill for our pain.
New car, new tune, new scholarship,
new t.v., new sugar bowl, new brain changes
at work. Crises can strike at any age
but resilience always takes an encore.
We seek out encrypted meanings in our life
together, this attachment tough as tree bark.
Terence Winch’s latest book, That Ship Has Sailed, was published in 2023 as part of the Pitt Poetry Series from the University of Pittsburgh Press. A Columbia Book Award and American Book Award winner, he is the author of eight earlier poetry collections. He has also written a young adult novel called Seeing-Eye Boy and two story collections, Contenders and That Special Place. His work has appeared in many journals and in more than 50 anthologies, among them the Oxford Book of American Poetry, Poetry 180, and 6 editions of Best American Poetry. He is the recipient of an NEA Poetry Fellowship and a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing, among other honors. He has also played, written, and recorded traditional Irish music all his life. The works featured here are from his forthcoming book of occasional love poems, each ten lines long, called It Is as If Desire, due in 2024 from Hanging Loose Press.