#12: Whetstone, by Joanne Harris Allred
About the Author
Joanne Harris Allred grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was educated at the University of Utah, California State University, Chico, and the University of California, Davis. Awards for her poetry include a Writers at Work poetry Prize and a Breadloaf Scholarship. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Colorado Review, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, and Writer's Forum.
About the Chapbook
“In Joanne Allred's poems, whose oath is love of the world—creatures, places, people, and the living tongue of language—the air hums with lives which serve as the poet's 'whetstone to sharpen vision'.” —Carole Simmons Oles
From the Chapbook
The full May moon through an orange tree's
perfume sets our tame hearts howling.
Its alchemist's dish of quicksilver lifts
lines from our faces, brightens our hair,
tinctures the air with youth. We steam
in dusky shades of being sixteen
again. I sit on a porch wearing nothing
but hot ambition under a cool cotton shift, waiting
for a boy who never shows. He can't get a car,
or off work, or the nerve, or some needed luck
circumstance won't grant in its plot to keep me pure.
My virginity aches like a loose milk tooth.
How have we grown to be forty with so many dreams left
bottled on the shelf like last year's peaches, in danger
of spoiling if not soon consumed. We talk about love
so wildfire hopeless it feeds only off the buckbrush
of hope, about men so alike in school-boy shyness
they could have been born brothers.
Oh desire is a dark cloud whose promise
of summer rain streaks the distance but never touches
ground. Like a fifty-seven Chevy up on blocks,
this passion revving its engine won't take us anywhere
but the torn back seat of memory or imagination.
Still, giddy as eager teens
we lay plans: if we started starving now
in six weeks we could be perfect—sensuously slim,
irresistibly tanned, fine curves of our runner's legs begging
a lover's hand. Beneath svelte silk we may be used,
a trifle worn, but, gift wrapped in sleek maturity,
more exciting than Christmas.