Carina del Valle Schorske’s “Anniversary” opens with the passage of time as a route not to the future, but to the past: “It’s high summer, and I’m back in the glen / where my arms took first position // in the dance you said I danced alone.” When I reach the you’s declaration, I’m not sure where the I’s present ends and memory begins. Cast in the light of lost love, the boundary between past and present blurs. Is the speaker literally “back in the glen,” where the coincidence of season and location evoke memories of a past relationship? Or are they elsewhere, and the summer’s peak has summoned the glen? But, then, doesn’t temporal ambivalence define any experience of encounter? The beautiful and terrible truth of seasons, this poem reminds me, is that they are at once a turning over and a retreading. Over and over, we meet ourselves—and each other—charting futures while entangled in the desires of present pasts.
– Claire Schwartz
It’s high summer and I’m back in the glen
where my arms took first position
in the dance you said I danced alone.
I’m back in the glen where the snow said
let me go. Even the loose or lonely gesture
strikes a bell that shakes me down to
don’t cry baby. Even the legs of the spider allude
to yours in joints so strange I didn’t want
to understand but came to. I keep quiet
but the wind still stumbles through the psalm
we wrote together. Let’s practice
plucking my eye from your socket.
Let’s practice walking a mile out, a mile back
both in the direction of danger. This time,
I play Orpheus and you play Eurydice.
Isn’t it true that every role can be a man’s?
I’m talking to myself. The sun pierces me
between my brows where vision doubles.
The lawn mower’s left a light press of labyrinth
in the grass and I mark my way through
without moving, knowing
whatever green I come to, I will crush.
Carina del Valle Schorske is a writer and translator living between San Juan, Puerto Rico, and New York City, where she is a PhD candidate in comparative literature at Columbia University. Her first book, The Other Island, is forthcoming from Riverhead.