Poetry on Winter Grounds: Part II
Note from Professor Kiki Petrosino, Director of Creative Writing in University of Virginia's College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
It is (almost) spring in Virginia. While icicles still cling to local rooftops, I’ve spied the first tiny spangles of forsythia in my backyard, their green-yellowness declaring an emphatic no to more cold. Even so, the air (still) smells like snow, and my boots (still) crunch through delicate shards of ice on my way to class. This is the dance of late winter in the Piedmont, yet it feels, sometimes, like learning an intricate two-step. In this pair of poems, each composed by a Third Year poet in UVA’s Master of Fine Arts graduate program in Creative Writing, love is a dance between I and you. Or maybe it’s a fencing match between masked opponents: “You advance, I retreat.” Maybe, just maybe, love is a dream-world filled with questions we take with us into sleep. Can we follow our beloveds into their dreams, can we climb with them all the way to the moon? These are poems filled with questions about what is permeable, what holds, and what must (at last) give way.
I wait for you in the other side,
your face hidden behind your metal
mask. Your name, I’ve forgotten.
The man in black suit motions
his arms forward, signaling the start.
My right arm moves up and down,
my black blade follows. So does yours.
We hop forward, backward, up, down,
side to side. You advance, I retreat.
You retreat, I advance. We continue this dance
until our hips cannot contain the fire
from our unending bounce.
I stop. You follow. Neither of us
willing to make the first move.
Thus, I take the risk: forward, I jump,
and soon, my body lunges. My arm
extends, my blade bends as it hits
your arm. Sorry, I say, sorry.
We trespass uphill to the moon, reenacting a dream you had a love ago.
Here, in the given world, you crawl on hands and knees through mud and
snow. What do you borrow from this world for the one in your sleep. The
letters I leave to you all begin with verbs without objects: Wait, Die, Snow,
Fall. And what of summer, when there were days. I don’t believe there’s
anything on the other side of a question, an absence of light, that look on
your face when I hold it in my hands.
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