Transition Poem 69 @ Jan. 16, 2017

Sarah Van Arsdale

In a future I cannot imagine
will we say to each other,
remember that afternoon,
that thing with the ethics committee,
that was when everything changed?
Will we say,
was that before the inauguration,
and puzzle it out, tethering from Christmas
to Joan’s party the day after New Year’s
yes, it was early in January
yes, it was between the election
and the inauguration

Will we say,
remember, we drove up to the Catskills
it was raining
and we stopped for gas
and I bought a Times because the headline
was so alarming

and we kept driving north on the Taconic
and it was that stasis
between late fall and true winter:
raining, but just after Hopewell Junction
the pond that forms there between the northbound
and the southbound lanes
was frozen over with a skin of ice
and the desperate trees, bare of leaves
scratched against the fog-­heavy sky
and the apron of woods
banking up from the parkway
lay littered with leaf meal
and patches of early snow.

Will we remember this afternoon,
the rain, the Times tossed into the back seat,
arriving at last, the clumps of snow
heaped by the trunks of the trees,
the warm purr of the furnace,
the roses resting, wrapped
against the coming freeze?


Sarah Van Arsdale’s fourth book is a collection of novellas titled In Case of Emergency, Break Glass (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2016) and her next book, The Catamount, a long narrative poem, is forthcoming in 2017 from Nomadic Press. Both are illustrated with her watercolors. Her novels are Grand Isle (SUNY Press 2012); Blue (University of Tennessee Press, 2003), winner of the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel; and Toward Amnesia (Riverhead Books, 1996). She serves on the board of the Ferro-Grumley Award in LGBTQ Fiction, and teaches in the Antioch University MFA Program and at NYU.

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