Roberta Senechal de la Roche is an American historian, sociologist, and poet born in western Maine and raised in upstate New York. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine and the University of Virginia, where she received a doctoral degree in history. Currently Professor of History at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, she lives in the woods outside of Charlottesville near the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poems have appeared in the Montreal International 2011 and 2015 Longlist, Literary Juice, Still: The Journal, the Big River Review, Front Porch Review, and The Colorado Review.
We look for our place in things visible
grounded pillars, granite temples
flocks that return on time
blessing skies all over again
with the passing sound of wings,
Not the edge of storms
where everything rises up
in liminal transparent waves
going fast enough to take you down
if you get too close, if you step in
And not the sea that rolls its transience
over and over, spits spindrift
in our faces with the tides
as its terns and gulls go slide
to restless stony beds offshore.
But maybe you are inland, holding
your breath as you watch
her undo the final shoulder strap, deep
rooted trees in lulls outside, leaves
at their feet, snow settled down on upper limbs.
It is not that any of this exists
that matters, but how it passes over us,
not minding annotations marked in red
or lists of names, of days, and laughter
or the color of her eyes as you move closer.
You do not want to hear the last word said
or see if she will turn or not
now that you have set the scene with a single candle
in the dark, knowing well what it might cost
to be invisible again.
"Timepiece" expresses themes that run through many of my poems — themes that in part reflect my Native American background: a rage against transience, a sense of alienation from nature, and a discouraging search for the supernatural lost in a disenchanted world. Faith placed in the visible world seems problematic, as does the search for stability in human love. Hope instead seems to lie in the courage to be vulnerable and, in the end, a single candle flickering in the dark.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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