Carolyn Oliver

August 20, 2021 Oliver Carolyn



In another life I’m a cosmologist, lungs snow-
shot with chalk dust, an exile from origins


eyeing the end, when sigma’s jaws close
on quintessence or open, infinitely. Consider


Poincaré recurrence: I would be a harp assembling
myelf in Andromeda’s outmost reaches, neck


and body joined in a glass casket, an open lattice
thin as hammered silver gilding petals. I’d string


myself so taut a single particle-wave grazing by
would pluck me and send my trill back to you,


evergreen among evergreens, braiding
your ghostly hair into a sensible rope before


you set out for the seed vault, antediluvian
ledger of possibility. You decide what life’s


worth saving, what matters of matter,
I quipped. But you didn’t grin—you pressed


something cold and white between our palms:
Trillium grandiflorum. Outside snow tumbles


over sophomores and starlings, the earth attracts it,
wants it back like a lover, and there’s a grand stack


of journals covering your side of the bed.
Restless, I slip out into tarnished dark,


I walk deeper and deeper into a future,
into blueberry fields, a red-leaf symphony


reflecting old starlight’s spectral ice. Between us
space expands. Cold sweeps the skies open.


Vanishing, I’m bound for your pines. Please,
teach me how to gaze back, this time.

Carolyn Oliver’s poems have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Indiana Review, Cincinnati Review, Radar Poetry, Shenandoah, Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, Cherry Tree, FIELD, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, the Writer’s Block Prize in Poetry, and the Frank O’Hara Prize from The Worcester Review, where she now serves as an editor. Carolyn lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her website: