Tuesday, March 9, 2010

If Not, Winter

This is one of the prompts for the Tupelo Press poetry project, based on fragments from Sappho. I'm so in love with this one that I think I could write a poem based on just those three words every day for the rest of my life. I just ordered the book of Sappho fragments which also takes those three words as its title: If Not, Winter.

Here are the three I wrote yesterday:

Do You Love Me?

If not, winter
If yes, spring

If not, feet
If yes, wing

If not, empty
If yes, filled

If not, barren
If yes, tilled

If not, hole
If yes, healed

If not, desert
If yes, field

If not, homeless
If yes, home

If not, silence
If yes, poem

If Not, Winter

Demeter’s daughter, don’t! Not one seed,
However small. Six of them? No!
Spit them out. Here, in my hand.
Leave their bittersweet untasted.
One swallow, and the world lies wasted.


If not, winter,
Why not, spring?
The heart has
A calendar within.
After months
Of frozen grief,
On that branch,
A budding leaf.
Here, a crocus,
Only one,
Yellow in
The morning sun.


  1. divine, delightful, delicious, Ms. Brilliant - and I'm going to see you soon. Huzzah!

  2. Claudia, "The heart has/ A calendar within" is so true, so hopeful. Wow! See you at the lit fest.
    Veda Boyd Jones