{An Umbrella Invitational}

Janice D. Soderling

was awarded first prize in a Glimmer Train 2006 contest and was runner-up at Our Stories 2007. Her fiction is on-line at 42opus and Cezanne’s Carrot.

Her poetry appears at Contemporary Sonnet, The Chimaera, Loch Raven Review, among others, and is forthcoming at Blue Unicorn and Other Poetry. She lives in Sweden.

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Boarding Up for Winter

In the comfortless climate of October,
the wind flops restlessly,
without direction.

A scattering of leaves
twitch fitfully on birch branches,
like forgotten towels strung on a limp cord.

Indoors, on dusty shelves gaping wide as lamprey mouths,
jigsawed puzzles; painstakingly laid, quickly fractured,
some pieces clasped like hands.

The blood-hungry horsefly
rattles grimly on the window sill.
A silky mist gathers at the far crest of the hills.

Oh my children,
oh my lovers,
oh amiable days of work and the rising bread;
the fine-crusted cakes pungent with caraway,
slanted stubs of candles.

Oh the path to the once-green rootstocks by the lake.

[Originally published in Embers]


Artist’s Statement

A lthough I did not recognize it until later, this poem marks a turning point in my life and in my writing. I was beginning to recover from a long illness during which I did not write at all. Prior to that, for a number of years, I wrote and published in Swedish.

What I remember about the inception of this poem is looking out the window on one of those late fall, pre-winter days that are so desolate in Sweden, when the autumnal glory is past, when trees are nearly bare, the wind irresolute, and the beautifying snow not yet come. October is a transitional month. The first line asserted itself, and the rest of it quickly flowed in, pretty much as it stands. I was surprised by the last six lines, but that is what poems do—surprise us by telling us what we are thinking, by telling us where we are.

Although the mood was real enough, I did not have a bona fide summer cottage to board up. However, houses and rooms have always been significant tropes in my writing. With this poem, I metaphorically closed up a mental habitation. And I began again to use English as my literary language, rather than Swedish.