January 15, 2009

Christina Olson

for Colleen, in China

When I thought you dead,
when the news photos
from Chengdu showed

the bloody rubble
and I sat in my cubicle
trying to tell paint from plasma

on the jagged chunks
of concrete that were once
an office, that's when

I planned your funeral songs
and remembered things
to tell you. There's a word

for the man I want to marry:
it's ucalegon, a neighbor
whose house is on fire.

There are no roads to Juneau
and most people who live there
like it that way; there is a disease

that turns men's soft tissue
to bone and their skeletons
look like something pulled

from the sea, from pirate ship.
But then you weren't dead:
you were alive and dusty

in your shitty Peace Corps
apartment. And the mantle
of earthquake-it will not

be the one that presses you
into the earth, or at least not
now. Not this time. Still-

whenever Van Morrison opens
with lemonade and bright roads,
something in my chest
cracks. But only every time.


Christina Olson's first book of poems, Before I Came Home Naked, is forthcoming from Spire Press. New work is also slated to appear in Brevity, The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume 3, and Black Warrior Review. Originally from Buffalo, New York, she is currently a visiting assistant professor of writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, where it also snows a lot. Contact her at notwyethschristinaolson@ gmail.com

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