Joyce Sutphen: Three Poems
Handprint | Since You Will Not Send Me Word | Losing Touch
You put your hand up to mine
(to show how well we fit together)
and then you traced the print
upon the page and placed your words
in, around, and between your fingers
(your roving thoughts). That's
when you told me how you would
hold me next time we met. America
oh, I was that to you, and you were
all states and realms (a little world)
to me. You meant well I know,
even though our love was like the grain
of wheat that fell on rocky ground
(all stone) and each of us alone and far
away from touch of skin and sun, our
palmer's palms, once joined together,
moving like mimes along the thick
invisible years that came between us.
Since You Will Not Send Me Word
Since you will not send me word
I will try to imagine
what you might have said.
I will believe there is a world
where you love me again,
I will talk sweetly.
Since you will not take my hand,
(my hand that was just your
size), I will wave
Good-bye again and again.
I will weep bitter tears, and
you shall know you are missed.
Since you will not love me love,
oh secret darling of my heart,
I will fall away
And rock myself to sleep.
I will sing a song
and rock myself to sleep.
As if I had died, you heard nothing
from me after that day, and if you thought
about me at times I never knew.
We went on living our missing lives
as if there were centuries between us.
We could have been on different planets,
except that we weren't, and it was
the same moon (more or less) rising over
(more or less) the same world.
The news happened, and we heard it
together, watching identical faces in
different rooms. Once or twice we probably
passed each other on the freeway or
in the airport. There was a moment of hesitation
before we went on, as if someone had died.
Joyce Sutphen lives in Chaska, Minnesota and teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, Water~Stone, Hayden's Ferry, Shenandoah, Luna, and others. Her first book, Straight Out of View (Beacon Press, 1995) won the Barnard New Women Poets Prize and was republished by Holy Cow! Press in 2001. Her second book, Coming Back to the Body (Holy Cow! Press, 2000) was a Minnesota Book Award finalist. Her poems have been featured in such spotlights as Billy Collins's Poetry 180 project.