~This poem was previously published in Nightsun (2007).
~Selected by Clara Jane Hallar, Assistant Editor (Poetry)
Never Enough Time
after Seamus Heaney
Therefore don’t drive across Arkansas on the Interstate
but take one of the small meandering two-lanes
through the Ozarks. Park your car once in a while
and step out into the persistent deciduous forest.
Breathe in the wild mint and sassafras, notice
the way the sky’s blue seems bluer against
all that green. And when one of the small
old towns slows you down to twenty-five or thirty,
let the middle-aged woman smiling at the pump
save you any trouble. Answer her sister at the register
who’ll ask where you’re headed, where you’re from.
And if you happen into Stone County, please come
to my house, any local will give you directions,
though you’ll have to climb the last half-mile
up the rocky hill by foot. Knock on the unlocked door
or go out back, find me weeding beans or tomatoes.
After a stroll through the garden, I’ll make us some tea.
And together we’ll pass at least a couple of hours.
You can afford them. Do you truly believe
you have anyplace better to go?
THE STORY BEHIND THE POEM
One day in 2007 on my daily morning walk through the Ozark woods that surround the house my then-husband and I built there 30 years before, I thought of Seamus Heaney’s marvelous poem, “Postscript,” which closes his 1996 collection, The Spirit Level, and honors County Clare, Ireland, where the poet lived. When I returned from my ritual walk, and with Heaney’s poem in mind, I sat at my desk and drafted my own love poem for the Ozark Mountains and the 52 acres of woods in Stone County, Arkansas, where I lived from the age of 30 and would continue to live for the next 34 years.
ABOUT ANDREA HOLLANDER
Andrea Hollander is the author of four full-length poetry collections, most recently Landscape with Female Figure: New & Selected Poems, 1982 – 2012, finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Her many other honors include two Pushcart Prizes (prose and poetry), the D. H. Lawrence Fellowship, the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, and two poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2011, after living in the Ozark woods of Arkansas for 35 years, Hollander moved to Portland, Oregon, where she teaches writing workshops at two literary centers. Her website is andreahollander.net.