by Carolyn Oliver


The Storerooms


He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap; he layeth up the
depths in storerooms.  Psalm 33:7

Heaped like spring fleeces, like gold
dragon-hoarded, the waters wait for her will,
they wait to be laid down, like wine without vintage.

The jarred maelstrom scrolls alongside
kelp eeling about icebergs, green against green.
Such is the logic of her storerooms.

Somewhere in the slosh of near unendingness
each sardine leaves its siblings’ frothing silver,
admired, in its separateness, by squid, krill, crocodile.

Here otters groom lionfish, currents take easy laps.
In caverns without windows creatures
of the deepest dark make mosaic day.

Seabirds sleep atop beds of the sweetest mussels.
Dolphins dredge up the bones of the stormlost,
play at arranging them in the shape of her image.

And in this communion of entanglement,
could there be a single unworthy drop, one drop
that hasn’t felt its thunderous being trouble the waters?



Seven Offerings for a Sick Friend

Sizzle
of the first bees rising
from far-off hives to risk the iris

Blue
bowl deep with lemons
pliant gold and fragrant

Ginger
handspan smooth as sophistry
sharp spoon for peeling

Curves
secret like the cello’s
like the arc of a slip through snow

Paper
edges frayed by Alpine nuns in the clear fine air
buttery as their linen

Tulips
a field for cutting
petals whittled out of flame’s fringe or purpled black as soot

Coins
to scaffold the stems as long
as the blooms hold up their pretty heads



(If I had any power
only when you willed it
would they rest over your eyes.)





CAROLYN OLIVER is the author of Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble (University of Utah Press, 2022), selected by Matthew Olzmann for the Agha Shahid Ali Prize. Carolyn’s poems appear in The Massachusetts Review, Indiana Review, Cincinnati Review, Radar Poetry, Shenandoah, Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, Plume, DIALOGIST, and elsewhere. Carolyn is the winner of the E. E. Cummings Prize from the NEPC, the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, the Writer’s Block Prize in Poetry, and the Frank O’Hara Prize from The Worcester Review, where she now serves as Editor. Carolyn lives in Massachusetts with her family. Online: carolynoliver.net


Photo: “Comb Jelly” by Eva Funderburgh