For the Moment Rose

Another morning means a pearled surface,
nacreous membrane we must split to enter

and, having entered, find not the hour
formally arranged for us, but a page

waiting to be inked or torn. Across the street,
the big tree keeps making leaves, and leans

its elbow on the air, listening
to the birds of its upper branches,

listening for the small, nervous wings
of what comes next, and in between, seasons

collide, each incident a prologue
to waking, walking in our separate stories,

our bodies busily writing their chapters,
the scars we read, the wounds we can’t.

How could we dream of such complications?
Another day whispers in, its bluish room

stained for the moment rose, and I want this
weightless dawn to be a mantle

I could touch, lift, wrap close around our shoulders
as I lie, wait for that next page, the stenographer

in a black and white movie, the woman
who would love to be loved and yet,

from the first scene, seems to hold herself apart,
a flinch barely visible, a twitch in the light.




Click here to read Joannie Stangeland on the origin of the poem.

Image: photo by David Mao on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Joannie Stangeland:

When I first drafted “For the Moment Rose,” my daily practice was to read a poem by someone else, let that poem seep into me, and then write my own poem. This poem came after spending time with Joanna Klink’s poem “Apology,” from her collection Circadian. In my poem, I wanted to explore the liminal moment, a creative space when anything is possible before the day begins, and how people might share that moment before their paths, and perceptions, through the hours diverge. The idea of a day being written brought me to the image of a stenographer, which brought me to the sassy or adoring love interest-sidekick in some old black and white movies. Revising was mainly the work of reordering to end in the place that felt right—that reach for connection while holding a part apart—and experimenting with line length and balance (especially in the tenth stanza) to maintain the liminal moment that the poem begins with and to invite the reader into that moment.

Joannie Stangeland
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