Joannie Kervran Stangeland

If I Write the Story Now

The myth of my true life emerges— a pond, fringed by cattails, water a still eye open to another world, a dark staring back at the sky. In this tale—grass pastures dried gold, the neighbor's sorrel mare, one gravel road away from the wind-run channel, currents threading north, cobalt waves shot by white, thin clouds raveling. The sea makes this my nunnery, a slope on an island as cut off as I can get and still be married among the rows of Roma tomatoes, giant sapphire delphinium. The tide shadows its histories on the shore, ciphers in empty oyster shells, flourishing script of kelp across rocks, missives in green bits of beach glass and the smooth white stones I called agates, gathered when I was a girl hungry for treasure. In the myth of my living, our house is made of time, with windows trimmed in blue, and I can read the weather coming. I will fill each room from memory and desire, the corners of my middle age, even as years tick faster than a train schedule. I’ll build this poem over and over, try to see my future in the lines the hummingbird writes, the arabesques of cedar boughs. I will toss my coins for luck not knowing which side wins, watch for the herons, a shade of grace I cannot imitate, know my own totem is the crow that worries the dawn.

Joannie Kervran Stangeland's work has most recently appeared in Off the Coast, Caduceus, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Painted Bride Quarterly. She is also the author of two poetry chapbooks.