Jane Olmsted

Ghazal, by a Thread


Love is a thread that will not break, though in this gray life

it surely must, bearing as it does, so much—yours, theirs, my life


Last night I walked a star-crazed night, then sat on the old swing

until the bare branches glittered, morse-coding a splintered life


In utter stillness sometimes, I hear a whispering, things not living, spirits

piercing the plane that separates us—though not you, silent from life . . .


So new to their world—are you seeking a way through, some breach? 

I search the globe of every odd-shaped thing—scrap of life—


and ask it, What on earth is the matter? What does it mean to be the thing

that ended next to you? What difference are you to your own life?


The silhouette I've made for myself, chalking up scorn for this

or that, is blurring and the lines redrawing—it seems the life


I've called my own is but an echo of someone else, someone
who can only be heard—or found—if she lets go of that life


sloughing off the skin and the skin and bearing the rawness, pulling

hand over hand and gathering the lines of this deep-shadowed life.

Jane Olmsted is director of the Women's Studies Program and professor of English at Western Kentucky University. Her chapbook, Tree Forms, is forthcoming (June 2011) from Finishing Line Press. Her poems and stories have appeared in Nimrod, Poetry Northwest, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Adirondack Review, and Briar Cliff Review, among others.





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