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Roseann Lloyd: Two Poems
We Didn't Have the Words Then | Still Point, July 25

We Didn't Have the Words Then

     —for Turid

But now that we do we cover the distance
of thirty-eight years in a few hours.

Manic-depressive. Incest. Class. The capacity
to choose.
Then what happens? Yoga

on the sunny deck. Talk of less important mysteries.
What is the price of deck furniture

when you want to follow the sun all day and don't
want to have to keep moving your chair?

Why do men in the Shetland pubs scowl at Norwegians?
Do rowan trees grow in the States? Do I look like a matron?

Now it's time to check the leaves on the broken
branch, the cherry tree we duct-taped last night. And now

there's a radio program, an actor reading from a book,
a book we took to heart, each from our own side

of the Atlantic: "You must never believe that you know anything,
You must never believe that anyone cares about you."

The childhoods we have now survived. Strong coffee
with cream. Blue clouds. Islands in the fjord.

Even a few cigarettes. Smoke and talk of the winter darkness.
Sundown in the Caribbean. "Vi skulle jo få glede av livet."

By the end of the afternoon, the laundry basket is empty—
a dozen of Rolv's dress shirts, one embroidered blouse,

five work blouses, matron slacks—huge fuchsia zinnias—
and five woven tablecloths

hang smooth and fresh, the smell of ironing
blending with the sweet hydrangeas growing thick on the stone wall.

Still Point, July 25

I've seen a few splotches of bright yellow
in the black ash down the block
but today is the first real sign—
a red maple, a perfection
of fullness and symmetry
so perfect it looks like the trees
in Aesop's Fables—this maple tree
is changing colors, even though it's still July,
changing colors chromatically
from a pure dark green at the bottom
to yellow in the middle, then fire red
at her spiraling top, spiraling up
to blue.

At the sight of this beauty, my familiar
shudder of winter dread.

But not even a stone's throw away—
a crab apple tree drops her arms
heavily, branches full of ripe apples,
each apple boasting intensity
of color: crab apple green,
cinnamon red, red as red hots.

I love this crab apple tree, it reminds me of
grade school when we liked to
press down our colored pencils really really hard
to make all the colors bright & shiny—
remember the shiny dark leaves? I love
this tree, it reminds me of grade school when if
I'd say I love the color red the kids
would tease and say If you love
it so much, why don't you marry it?

I'm weak with the fullness of summer
weak with this beauty and yes!
I want to marry the whole world. Today,
such hesitation of the seasons—
summer in its fullness, winter dread,
both present at once—
which way to go?

I have to go home
I have to call my lover at work
and tell him I love the crab apple trees
and the red maple tree, too, I have to
tell him I think I'll die
if we don't have sex before dark.

Poet's Biography:
Note: The radio program quotes come from the book A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks by Aksel Sandemose. The Norwegian sentence "Vi skulle jo få glede av livet" can be translated: Of course we are supposed to find joy in this life.

Photo credit: Kathleen Sullivan
Roseann Lloyd has published two volumes of her own poetry, War Baby Express (Holy Cow! Press, 1996) and Tap Dancing For Big Mom (New Rivers Press, 1985); a new collection of poetry Because of the Light will come out in March 2002 from HolyCow! Press. Lloyd has also worked as an editor on various literary journals and the anthology Looking For Home: Women Writing About Exile, co-edited with Deborah Keenan (Milkweed Editions, 1991) which won the Before Columbus American Book Award that year. Every winter, Lloyd teaches a poetry class in Antigua, Guatemala, which you can read more about at or at Lloyd's website:

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.