Joyce Wilson

The Brook

I asked the brook to show
its knowledge of the world;
it raised the image of my face
but never said a word.

The shining surface trembled:
gnats rose up in swarms
like knotted iridescent strings
in effervescent storms.

My heart took flight and followed
into an open field
where amarynth and barley grew
and kestrels turned and wheeled.

And then I lost my way
upon a hard terrain
until I saw the brook emerge
and lead me on again.

Palomino Run

I had instructions from the blue-eyed girl
To take the palomino where the broken hill
Joined at the creek, and ride along its side,
And cross the stream, maintaining even stride.

I knew the horse was eager for the start.
He trotted down the lane, his head aloft,
And breathed the air, and eyed the grassy ditch
Nervously, as if descending pitch

Might offer up a signal or a sign.
Too soon, some thunder toppled overhead
And sent the swallows twisting in the wind.
He pulled the bit; I tightened on the line;

He gathered in his legs and jumped!--forsook
My lead, which I surrendered when the brook
Appeared beneath us, shimmering and deep,
Impossible to fathom or to sweep

As we, like sentries heralding the storm,
Hurdled it, and lifted iron clouds,
And joined their currents, suffering their force.
We brought their mercy into our service

And elevated spirits into gold
And joined the winds regardless of the cold
And turned like swallows breathing dark and light
And would have entered dawn, have entered night.

The Spring House

Set into the hill of rabbits' lairs,
The house has walls, a gabled roof, a door
Where water seeps like milk a mother bears
And gathers in a square cut in the floor.

My father cautioned us to stay away
Yet left the lock undone, a second thought.
We looked in at the shallow water bay:
Protected source, a freshet, neatly caught.

The cobwebs and accumulated dust
Would fall if loosened by a sudden shout.
Shaken pipes would activate the rust,
Contaminate the water in the spout.

But one fine day, inside the house we stepped
Inquiring the nature of our dreams,
Wagering that what the stillness kept
Would tolerate the echoes of our screams.

Take and Receive

She gives, I take
the silver cup, the woolen scarf,
vanilla cream, the old ice skates.

She gives, and I refuse
the curdled eggs, the scalded milk,
the reprimand, the awful shoes.

She gives, to one already full,
who loves the summer and the snow,
who mimes the art of letting go.

I take, then I receive
the cup engraved, the scarf resewn,
the courage to achieve,

the tonic against grief,
the habit of delight.

My Last Visit

This driving rain! It only pleases me
Because it brings me to another day
A year ago: I traveled through the cold
On such a day and visited my mother.

I wore the same coat that I wear today,
But then I tugged this hat and wrapped this scarf
To keep the cold, the wet, the weather out.
Today I need to keep my sadness in.

The cold last year was as it is today.
I pulled my suitcase through the drilling rain,
Held my umbrella high against the wind,
And rode the escalator down and down

And out alone. I had come for a reason
And for a privileged moment I forgot--
Oh, yes. She called us all and drew us near,
Who did not know that spring would be her last.

I saw her waiting for me in her car,
Magenta shirt and bright white hair cut short,
Unmistakeable on that gray day
Amid the cars in that commuter lot.

My mother waited under glass for less
Than half an hour, protected from
This life and weather. I still see her as
She waits, a rare and healthy hothouse flower.


Joyce Wilson is the editor and creator of The Poetry Porch, a Web site for poets, and teaches English at Suffolk University. Her poems have appeared in literary journals such as Antigonish Review, Agni, Cyphers, Harvard Review, and Poetry Ireland. Recently one of her poems won the Daniel Varoujan Award 2002 from the New England Poetry Club of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and another won the Katherine Lee Bates Award 2003 from the Falmouth Historical Society. She writes book reviews of poetry regularly for Harvard Review and The Drunken Boat. The manuscript of her first book of poems is circulating.


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Joyce Wilson

Meredith Bergmann: My work has always seemed cut out for me. I give myself assignments or I take commissions to find challenges to make heroic work in which the themes must be expressed with beauty and with irony. Light touches on dark subjects help me break away what's monolithic or opaque. No thing, for me, embodies mystery, gives life to clay, or conveys narrative enduringly as can the human form. Loving to sculpt and to manipulate ideas, I'm happiest when I can give new meaning to old urges, or can warm a concept into art that's worth its weight.
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