Joanna Solfrian

The Wind; Three Joannas and I Was Not One; Phases; For Zoë: Joanna Solfrian

The Wind

The wind flirts with the willow, like a goddess who knows
which flick of her wrist will lift a gown to ankle.

Or with a diner waitress who stands in front of the white plastic fan
and fluffs her damp hair, unbuttons her top button.

Three Joannas and I Was Not One

There is a young man staring at me in the potential jurors’ lounge. I am momentarily distracted by a conversation to my left—is this yours? It was on the seat next to me when I sat down—and I think of a game show: Umbrellas With Strangers. The young man is staring at me still. He leans against a window such that the light behind him becomes frame. He is dark, bearded, messianically lean. I have noticed this young man for the past hour. Everyone else is sitting in rows of vinyl chairs which all face the window. There is a plastic bag next to him on the windowsill, which is deep enough to also accommodate his elbow and a climate-control grate. The climate is not being controlled. It is too cold in the potential jurors’ lounge. Refrigerants seep out of the grate, the soda machine. The young man has a look of Rabindranath Tagore about him, which is a difficult thing to write and be understood. But it’s true. His face is haunted by an idea that feels familiar. The potential jurors’ lounge needs ideas. The lady has already called one round of names today and our numbers are dwindling. I look up from my notebook and meet his eyes. The young man turns and looks out the window. The second-story view is of office buildings, dollar stores, one straggly linden so short you can see its top if you put your forehead to the glass and look down. I know this because yesterday, during the eight hours of waiting, I leaned against the same window and stared at the young man, sitting.


Some nights I ask the moon
when my mother will return
and the moon opens her mouth
and cries with me.

Some nights I ask the moon
when my mother will return
and the moon drapes her belly
with a black napkin.

Some nights I ask the moon
when she will return
and the moon says hold on a minute
and slips out the door.

Then there are nights I sob
will you answer me please?
but the moon is long gone
and I am twice-lost.

For Zoë

Sometimes I am separated from my lover,
and sometimes I am separated by my lover.

My children weave threads into bracelets.
They are too sincere for lovers.

When I behold the newborn, identity is amniotic.
In this manner, humankind is my lover!

This poem will fall out of your back pocket on a walk.
A stranger will re-mail it to you; her stamp is our lover.

Friend, the squirrel acts within the confines of squirrel.
That said, your gaze is his deepest lover.

Joanna Solfrian's Visible Heavens, received the Wick First Book Poetry Prize, judged by Naomi Shihab Nye. Her second collection, The Mud Room, came out last year from MadHat Press. Finishing Line Press recently published a chapbook of ghazals called The Second Perfect Number. Her poems have been published in journals such as The Harvard Review, Boulevard, Image, Margie, Rattapallax, The Southern Review, Pleiades, and The Spoon River Poetry Review. She is a MacDowell fellow and a four-time Pushcart nominee.