Carolyn Oliver

In the Distance


Archers, too young, light and notch new arrows in the distance.

Blameless, what symphonies might they compose in the distance?


Consider: surrender. A kind of holiness, brittle

drawbridge downed, calling out for fellows in the distance.


Economies of scaled creatures, marginal return of

foundering migrations—the earth we chose in the distance.


Grant me this, that until my end I may read and understand.

How bleak the text, how gilded the gingkoes in the distance.


Illustrious lichen, sea light set in a wood: come back,

jacket with stars again oaks that once rose in the distance.


Kaleidoscopes, you claim, will litter the edge of the world.

Laundry, I counter. Heat-scorched, it billows in the distance.


Malachite the trees, topaz the broken sky: praise the farm.

Numinous the farmer, the soft furrows in the distance.


Over the ridge, flame tips the wheat with silky golds and reds,

plague at its heels, and storm. Famine echoes in the distance.


Quick is alive, a woman sighs, rosemary, remembrance.

Rivering, riverful—her breath shallows in the distance.


Silence filling with more silence: the bats hunting near dawn.

Tell me I’d miss the cobalt barn swallows in the distance.


Unless spiders weave, houses fall to flies. On every road

vultures wait to feast. A minotaur bellows in the distance.


We meet alone in hidden archives, re-carving ancient

xylographs. Time comes first; desire follows in the distance.


Yes, let gaunt care roll in, radiating its lunar chill.

Zaftig, we’ll swell, eclipsing our sorrows in the distance.


Carolyn Oliver’s poems have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Indiana Review, Cincinnati Review, Radar Poetry, Shenandoah, Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, Cherry Tree, FIELD, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, the Writer’s Block Prize in Poetry, and the Frank O’Hara Prize from The Worcester Review, where she now serves as co-editor. Carolyn lives in Massachusetts with her family. Online: