[A rhododendron just before it opens]

Joyce Schmid

A rhododendron just before it opens,
rain about to form, engorgement
of a breast. But it is January:
chill shuts down the buds.
There is no rain, no nursling child.
I grew up in a world of promises,
flared skirts and smiles, the sun
was mild, its rays straight lines.
It’s taken me three quarters of a century
to learn the sound of time, the yearning
of a forest for its pines. Today I woke
to see a thick branch of our mulberry
shine warmly like my mother’s hair,
but then I saw the sun itself, gone wild:
I was your god but you abandoned me.
Now burn.

Joyce Schmid's recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Literary Imagination, New Ohio Review, Antioch Review, Poetry Daily, The Dark Horse, and other journals and anthologies. She lives in Palo Alto, California, USA, with her husband of over half a century.

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