Poem of the Week

Elegy for Oneida Creek

Emma Aylor

                                      after a postcard, April 13, 1908

At the edges of the card, the ink takes shine:
hold the print to the window and see

silver hover of the negative melted
in, oval as the lip of any usual light.

The smudged writing is hardly legible—
You will recognize this view of Oneida Creek

it was never mailed to Violet in Florence

at an incomplete address surely to be updated
from a part of New York once known

to once-children. Now adults, can remember
how the boys used to delight in tipping the boat.

Can remember. I feel now the timid ones

the writer knew. They’re two centuries
off and so far east. Just children. I found the same

bend in the creek on the computer, its trees
pulled out. It’s shown in winter.

There are so few shadows in its water
in the view, now, until people cast

them. Then, the leaves were sharp far and blurred
at such closeness to the taker

that, though lacking context, I can tell
it was high summer as he stood in greener shade.

I think he can look backwards and recognize me.

With love, they’re all with love, every card
I’ve saved from the trash for my dollar—so much

of it written out, not sent, but endless on its way
both to and from the dead,

and I can assure, yes, assure you I did my share
of the screaming.

Emma Aylor is a poet whose work has appeared in 32 Poems, New Ohio Review, Pleiades, Colorado Review, and The Cincinnati Review, among other journals. She received Shenandoah’s 2020 Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets. She lives in Lubbock, Texas.
Originally published:
November 24, 2021

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