Easter Condensed

March 28, 2013

Every year the spring came alive in their mouths,
like a cactus skin had been peeled away,
leaving tongues of sweet and smooth vapors
for them to breath and exhale,
each separately, sure, but so like
a man and woman making love
before the kids got home from school,
that Easter came and went, condensed.
Both were out of shape, and too busy
to be giving their time away like this,
but they lingered still,  listened
to the sound of their own breath,
like it was the sound of a train pulling away
from the station, and wished that it would stay.

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4 Responses to “Easter Condensed”

  1. John Stevens Says:

    A fascinating title, this, Jim. I wonder which came first, the title or the lines. You have that sense of transience in the images of hasty love-making, of the train, of Easter passing – and this suggests how the long-awaited spring is itself something that will pass. The lines are joyful and sad at the same time.

  2. Anna Mark Says:

    listened
    to the sound of their own breath,
    like it was the sound of a train pulling away
    from the station, and wished that it would stay.

    Excellent! This poem hurts…these are good words.
    I am very engaged from the start. The cactus skin, thick, sharp, thorny — this being “winter”, or whatever it is that “spring” peels away — and then leaving sweet, smooth vapors that lead to…love making, luxury of time, and a wish.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this one, too.

  3. extrasimile Says:

    I just recently listened to an interview with a poet who hated titles—referenced Emily Dickenson—felt she was forced by her publisher to give her poems titles, etc.
    Not me. I love titles. It often seems such an easy way to add a layer of …um, interpretability to the poem. Like you could name your first child John, or Anna (or James)—or Ishmael or Scarlett, (Wait…Cleopatra, there’s a name for you. How about Napoleon?) Anyway, titles generally come to me along the way and not like ‘Assault on a Simile’, John, which came first. I usually change the title. And I don’t know how fruitful it would be for me to speculate on the ‘meaning’ of this one. To me it suggests a man and woman who meet each year at Easter—do they actually make love?—or is this as symbolic as Easter is symbolic of rebirth (or is it symbolic of resurrection, or of finding eternal life in this amazing set of events that are supposed to have occurred some 2000 years ago, or what…I don’t know.) and because of the rarity of the meeting feel the passing of time afresh each year? (Shakespeare is asked the meaning of Hamlet, and he says, Well, it’s about this Prince.)
    Lines of joy and sorrow…this poem hurts…’Why, then, when in a golden fury/ Spring vanishes the scrapes of winter, why/ Should there be a question of returning, or/ Of death in memory’s dream? Is spring a sleep?’ Poetry as little bites of love in spring, little sips of milk, condensed.

  4. John Stevens Says:

    That’s interesting about titles, Jim. They seem to perform a variety of roles, potentially. They can just be a publisher’s label I suppose, adding nothing. Other times they act like a signpost, a help to interpretation, a contrast etc. You say you usually change a title along the way; I completely understand that.


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