What an exact moment,
beyond stop watch, clock, daily planner.
Nothing meted out. Pure season,
expression of something immense
that you barely glimpse.
Coiled tight like spirochetes, hundreds
squinched in a head, how many heads
on a bush? On a bank of them? Fragrance
when sun hits not green but not yet blossom.
Less cloud, longer light, a shift of wind
to south — imagine — detonation
as though bombs have been ticking below notice,
ticking in a rhythm so full of silence
who could count it out?
Each noon buds loosen, scent is more intense,
perfume you long for, whiff of an awakening
so piercing it will disappear as you open to it.
The brain can’t hold such beauty
and keep the body running.
Just as it blows into bloom
you could die of it. Lilac.
The few branches cut and carried inside
to infiltrate the sheets, the dreams
will fade. You’ll say they’ve lost
their scent, but it’s been given
to you. To stay alive,
you’ve had to forget.
Le dur désir de durer,
how difficult the desire to endure.
J. C. Todd, winner of the 2016 International Literary Award’s Rita Dove Poetry Prize and a Pew Fellow in the Arts, is author of three collections of poetry, What Space This Body, Nightshade, and Entering Pisces, as well as FUBAR, a limited edition artist book created in collaboration with visual artist MaryAnn L. Miller (Lucia Press, 2016). Other awards include finalist for the Robert H. Winner Award and for the Lucille Medwick Lyric Poetry Award, both from the Poetry Society of America.
Todd is the 2016 Pew Fellow at the Ucross Foundation, a Fellow of the Ragdale Foundation, and has been a Virginia Center for Creative Arts international exchange artist at Schloss Wiepersdorf in Germany. Other residencies include those at VCCA, the Hambidge Center, and the Baltic Center for Artists and Translators in Sweden. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Big Bridge, and elsewhere. She is a faculty member of the Creative Writing Program at Bryn Mawr College and the MFA Program at Rosemont, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
JC Todd in this Edition
Full and Empty: The Contradiction of Translation
Instant of Turbulence
Mock Orange on Wash Day
Morning After the Bombing
Necklace of Silence
The Suitcase was Stuffed
When the Envelope Opens, Open