The Window (Candice Ward)

October 19, 2009

I sit on the inside of this window
doing piece-work: woodcut, quilt square,
the shape of things to come.

Next door, you putter,
running water. Soon you will bring me
coffee, years before I need it.

Outside in the twilight,
a child playing some street game
calls: come closer

as the bark on the tree
darkens with evening and the last
light empties from a curve of sky.

I have been smelling coffee
all my life. Cold and so much
older when you bring me some,

I sit on the inside
of this window, close
as I can come.

*

Good poetry, they say, asks words to carry more than their typical load. This is true here as a tremendous emotional quality comes through despite the poem’s brevity. I love its spare precision. It is a poem of regret, it seems to me, with a speaker haunted by the separation she feels not only between the past and the present, but between herself and the lives circling her own (notice the three ‘characters’ are carefully separated off). She can only come so close. And yet, as the first stanza suggests, the speaker presses on doing “piece-work,” a way of binding the present to the future.

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