Tim Mayo’s poetry has received over seven Pushcart Prize nominations. Among the places his poems and reviews have appeared are The American Journal of Poetry, Barrow Street, Narrative Magazine, ONE (Jacar Press), Poetry International, Salamandar, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. His second full length collection Thesaurus of Separation (Phoenicia Publishing 2016) was a finalist for the 2017 Montaigne Medal and the Eric Hoffer Book Award. He lives in Southern Vermont, where he is a member of the Brattleboro Literary Festival. http://www.tim-mayo.net
How long, for instance, has it been
since I, myself, felt joy––the deep-down
explosion of it, the way I used to ––Patricia Fargnoli
At last, June cedes its drooping peonies to the black
armies of ants, and I am trying to think what flowers
come next in this sad season. I’ve always loved lilacs,
but we’re way past their time, and way, way past forsythia
spackling the rising whips of their stalks with yellow petals
before disappearing into a green tardiness of leaves.
Why am I going backwards, like those flowers,
which blossom before leafing, and choosing with each
bloom an earlier time? Soon I will arrive back at the point
of your leaving, where no flowers bloomed, both of us staring
at the bare back of March as we try to pass it by, me thinking
of summer, you the impending black ants searching for
the uncancerous sweet nectar of sleep, while we still
stamp our feet in the snow. And so, I conjure up bumble
bees curling their awkward, furry bodies into the rumpled
sheets of dying peonies, and we are back in June, and I am
at your grave with a woman I love by my side. I am so glad
for her friendship since I’ve lost yours, so glad for that long
stretch of time I’ve known her, dating back beyond so many
seasons of peonies, forsythia, back as far as my adolescence.
(My god. A woman I’ve known that long.) I can almost say
I grew up with her, even though I’ve never grown up.
She’s not a lover, nor a wife. She is here for you, dear friend.
And perhaps for me, too. I would offer you her sorrow, her
solace, along with my grief, if I could. I would offer them
in a bouquet alongside the transience of these daylilies with
their long necks leaning over the road we’ve traveled as if
curious to see which way we came, which way we’ve gone.