In the Meantime

By Lisa Olstein b. 1972 Lisa Olstein
What seemed a mystery was
in fact a choice. Insert bird for sorrow.   

What seemed a memory was in fact
a dividing line. Insert bird for wind.   

Insert wind for departure when everyone is
standing still. Insert three mountains

burning and in three valleys a signal seer
seeing a distant light and a signal bearer

sprinting to a far-off bell. What seemed
a promise was in fact a sigh.   

What seemed a hot wind, a not quite enough,   
a forgive me, it has flown away, is in fact.   

In the meantime we paint the floors
red. We stroke the sound of certain names

into a fine floss that drifts across our teeth.
We stay in the room we share and listen

all night to what drifts through the window—
dog growl, owl call, a fleet of mosquitoes

setting sail, and down the road,   
the swish of tomorrow’s donkey-threshed grain.

Lisa Olstein, “In the Meantime” from Radio Crackling, Radio Gone (Copper Canyon Press, 2006).

Source: Radio Crackling Radio Gone (Copper Canyon Press, 2006)


Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Lisa Olstein b. 1972

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Relationships, Love, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Animals, Social Commentaries, Life Choices

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse