In the Meantime by Lisa Olstein
Had a bad dream that I can’t remember now. I only know that I was crying, and, awake, couldn’t stop.
In the Meantime
What seemed a mystery was
in fact a choice. Insert bird for sorrow.
What seemed a memory was in fact
a dividing line. Insert bird for wind.
Insert wind for departure when everyone is
standing still. Insert three mountains
burning and in three valleys a signal seer
seeing a distant light and a signal bearer
sprinting to a far-off bell. What seemed
a promise was in fact a sigh.
What seemed a hot wind, a not quite enough,
a forgive me, it has flown away, is in fact.
In the meantime we paint the floors
red. We stroke the sound of certain names
into a fine floss that drifts across our teeth.
We stay in the room we share and listen
all night to what drifts through the window—
dog growl, owl call, a fleet of mosquitoes
setting sail, and down the road,
the swish of tomorrow’s donkey-threshed grain.