When I was a child and my grandmother gave me a lemon drop candy, she would say “Suck it down slowly, don’t eat it,” but I ate it every time, imagining with a furtive shame what patience it would take to feel each drop of sour-sweet evanescing on my tongue. Why have I never been a more patient person? I used to think the gardens would teach me, but today a sea of snowdrops erupted all of a sudden the way I do—with love or fear or some more inchoate emotion—the thrumming of this just being here. God, they are beautiful. And strange. Their folded petals like a tidy delicate linen, but one with all the lushness of flesh, tenderness of secret, like the skin of an inner arm. In the mirror, I see where lack of patience has taken me—I am middle-aged, tired; I ruined what I had by wanting too much. And how am I different than anyone? Even if the sour-sweet lasted through morning, through sunlight, through my grandmother’s mumbled rosaries, how would I not feel just as I do now the pain of eternity or the longing, ever-present, for spring again—that tender snowmelt of girlhood, snowdrop, daffodil, the trees of blossom, bending and swaying in the new warm wind.
Sheila Black is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Iron, Ardent (Educe Press, 2017). She is a co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Birmingham Review, The New York Times and other places. She currently divides her time between San Antonio, TX, and Washington, DC.