Only one week into May, and I'm missing April. Not the busy schedule of National Poetry Month--the literary festivals, the readings, the travel. I'm missing the way that month nudges the green up, everything promising ascendance, if not transcendence. I want April back again, so as we head into the second week of May, dogwoods already done for, redbuds gone, daffodils shriveled, I offer some poems by Andrea Selch, several of them set in April. They are love poems, as spring poems should be, and in their emotional and lyric movement, they remind me of one of my favorite of Robert Frost's line, "Nature's first green is gold"; like that first green, they seem to tremble as they reach out into the sensuous promise of new love. New life. They call back to my ears my first reading of Carol Ann Duffy's Rapture, a book that brilliantly renders the pleasures and uncertainties of falling in love. Andrea's poems are no less passionate and memorable than the more famous ones by Duffy, the UK's first woman Poet Laureate. Their craft and emotional intensity place them among the best love poems being written right now.
Andrea holds an MFA from UNC-Greensboro, and a PhD from Duke University, where she taught creative writing from 1999 until 2003. Her dissertation was a history of poetry on commercial radio in the United States from 1922 until 1945. Her poems have been published in Calyx, Equinox, The Greensboro Review, Oyster Boy Review, Luna, The MacGuffin, and Prairie Schooner. Her poetry chapbook, Succory, was published by Carolina Wren Press in 2000. Her full-length collection of poetry,Startling, was runner-up in the 2003 Turning Point competition and was published by Turning Point Press in October, 2004. [Startling was re-issued by Cockeyed Press in 2009.] Her most recent small collection, Boy Returning Water to the Sea: Koans for Kelly Fearing, was published in 2009 by Cockeyed Press. She is the winner of 2008 Hippo Award from The Monti for her spoken story, "Replacement Child." In 2001, she joined the board of Carolina Wren Press and is now President and Executive Director. She lives in rural Hillsborough, North Carolina, with her partner and their two children.
All of Selch's books may be ordered through the Carolina Wren Press website or Amazon.
Thinking of Robert Frost’s “To Earthward”
As I remember them, our first attempts
at love were superhuman—how many
waking hours, how few of sleep!
Back then we didn’t bother with a clock,
but let our bodies’ hungers beat out time.
Mere mortals now, we manage
maybe once a week to catch each other
lying down. Yet—I reason—
through such breaks flows love’s finest grain.
Good Friday at Another Academic Conference (2002)
Once, when each new morning brought her only
abstract dread and desperation, she loved
the trips away—the anxious packing, up
until all hours, gathering tiny padlocks,
teabags, nailclippers... and then the plane ride’s
private sadness, the solace of squirreling
so many packets of non-dairy creamer away,
and, later still, the passionate sameness
of the hotel room she couldn’t bring herself
to leave, when the conference finally ended.
Now, her heart unlocked, she hates them—even though
these days she hasn’t half an hour
to steep herself in joy’s real cream and cool,
or nail the final sentence in her speech.
How things came together she couldn’t have known,
but she accepts them, and dies to get back home.
Second Anniversary - At RDU International (1996)
Again along the airport road
the dogwood trees are blossoming.
Between the green pines, this year’s petals
snow and shiver, bringing winter into spring.
And though I know a week from now the clusters
will have flown, I love them all the same,
the same as I love you who’s always
going, going, or gone.
Or, I should say I love you more;
since unlike the flowers you needn’t reappear,
but contrive to do so—Oh and here you are!—
again, almost the same.
Easter Sunday (1987)
It was one of those green days
when there is no sun
you were coy—
like a cat.
Without speaking, we ate,
I went for a walk
in the kiddie park
and came back.
You came back
about the same time
and we went for a drive.
On a highway
that was blue-black,
empty, and smooth
as a train track,
we talked the scarred talk
of lonesome ex-lovers,
and the car warmed up.
At your house,
my lips pressed you down
by the mouth; the bed
was rumpled, cool.
You said, “Don’t think,”
but I didn’t mind
thinking about it—
it was fevered and trembly,
like traveling unfamiliar territory,
yellow as no sun ever was.
Then you slept
and I went next door
to make sense of things.
And after this poem,
I can only remember I dreamt
of making a huge pot of white rice
and Monday dawned
but filled with the noise
of a thousand birds.