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Christina Olson


elegy for myself


You’ve been seeking

advice in trees again.

Cut your hair short,

call it a day. Quit 


falling out and in

of love with friends,

their scratch and sniff

tattoos. Idiot girl.

At home, the dog

waits by an empty dish.

Fridays you tunnel

in bed, think of exes

who are married—

and worse—fat.

On your wrist

is a new bird.

You will turn

into your mother.

You friends will say

She was beautiful,

she was an anarchist

and There is neither

rock nor roll

anywhere in Kalamazoo.

Bourbons, marathons,

little yellow pills:

you tried them all.

Dear, stupid girl.

Nothing can save you.

Except this:

go back to that tree.

This time listen

when it tells you

Don’t worry so much.

Another sixty years,

we’ll both be dead.





This winter I’m learning to skate

the long pale streets by myself.

January. Alone. Or am I—

today, ten brown birds

lit up my balcony railing.

Morning coffee, puff of sparrow.

Men without teeth or ears


stop me on the street.

They whistle honey, baby, darlin

through the dark doorways

in their smiles. At night,

I hear my neighbor cursing

the dog, Remy, that reminds him

of his wife. She’s gone—ran away


with the circus. Left for a traveling

show of Hair: The American

Tribal Love-Rock Musical. Fifteen

months in Indianapolis, New York,

Tampa, Hong Kong. Back home,

he learns what I already know:


a dog can wait forever

hoping the only one it loves

will scratch key in the lock.

He wants to give Remy away.

I tell him rename him HachikĊ,

that it’s better to have someone

to split the wait with. And me,


now I know the difference

between all the blues and grays of sky,

in ice. The only trick to waiting

is knowing exactly what

you burn for—phone call,

first redbud. Downstairs,

they want her to come home

and fill their dishes. Me,

I’m just asking that the river

catch fire one last time.

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