"An Invitation to Visit or Stay" | Poetry Contest | Indy Week

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"An Invitation to Visit or Stay"

Third Place


The language in "An Invitation to Visit or Stay" is smooth and rhythmic, with images that take you out on a journey and bring you back home again. The details are as obscure as the dust balls in a closed-up summer cottage, collecting life particles the way that this poem collects details. There is a deep nostalgia here for those regrets of waiting too long, of not going slow enough, of going too slow with love--the hesitation and self-consciousness that throws off any dance. I love that the poet allowed me this interpretation by giving images like "mason jars ... In this one ... old candy" and "the jar filled with plastic frogs," and coaxes from the details similes like "angels, with their opalescent wings, move in slow motion, like football stars, like horses losing races, like news footage of a shooting" so that I may end up in my own place of connectedness with this poem, taking from it a mood of love that stopped and stuttered but found its way to rhythm. --Zelda Lockhart

An Invitation to Visit or Stay
by Laura Jent

We are living again in the house of mason jars,
and not for the chintz factor, we really believe
in rainwater on the roof, we mean each thing
a ring of tin implies. In this one I've got maybe
half a dozen chocolate hearts, bitter from last February,
I am not kidding when I say: even old candy
tastes better when it's first been lying
on your strawberry tongue.

So bring your golden puppy with you,
we'll take him out wearing flapping bathrobes,
noisy flip-flops. It's that time of year
when any moment before 9 a.m. feels like
morning at the beach, heady with expectancy
and clouds. Jet plants with remote controls
are not really jet planes at all. If that makes sense to you,
then come clip my wires. You're the only one
who can prove it with pictures.

There's a train in your window, honey,
and it's got the brakes on, blowing its whistle.
it won't wait forever but we're too shaken
to slide open those heavy doors and ride. That one headlight
chases something through the trees, and we laugh
a summer laugh that starts somewhere behind our knees.
This kind of love is all empty track and we keep driving
the wrong car down it.

What can we say about deliverance, except that it comes slowly?
All the myths of apocalypse mean nothing to us
because we know: angels, with their opalescent wings,
move in slow motion, like football stars, like horses
losing races, like news footage of a shooting.
Last night we found the jar filled with plastic frogs,
that was the time we caught the plague. Our x-rayed lungs
are spotless now, but it did take years, didn't it?

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