Formula for the Chance Joining
by Anna Zumbahlen
I’ve been thinking about the red leaf pressed inside a book I’d intended to read through the winter. Holding or gathering color. Claiming to know something about having been waiting. The tip tip of rounded drops on branches, on the needled ground. My impulse is to leave it at that, another sadness at the center which I’ll circle and refuse to name. Having been dreaming of various departures, and also of saying, “Are you ever just completely wrong about where you are in this neighborhood?” I have voiced this, actually. What is easy to witness is not always natural in language. There is a house on the next block painted the same color as mine, also with white trim. I may be left with a deeper attention to place, a lesser one, or both together.
I landed in Missoula after living a year in rural northwestern Iowa. In Missoula, winter is dark and cold and feels like it lasts six months, and I did press a red leaf in The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest, a book I thought might bring me back to myself or to the self I’d left in Iowa. When that first spring started to announce itself, my partner and I drove up the canyon to look for wildflowers. There were none (too early) but it rained, and the rain was a relief, a recovery of something outside of winter.
Anna Zumbahlen is the editor-in-chief of Carve and lives in Missoula, where she teaches poetry in the schools.