Writers' Corner

Nance Van Winckel

2001 Poetry

Author's Statement

The poems in my application are from a manuscript in progress, entitled BESIDE OURSELVES. The poems are set in Eastern Europe in the mid-1980's.

I was thrilled and honored to receive the NEA grant. Monetarily, the grant allows me to set aside other work for next year and live more completely inside these new poems. But just as importantly, I appreciate the encouragement this fellowship gives to the poems themselves.

If You're Happy & You Know It

A man and a woman on the window's
glass. He touches her hair, tips
her chin. Just look at them, I said.
Who do they look like?

He whispers in her ear. Lovers,
you said. They look like lovers.
They are gray on the black glass.
Adrift into a kiss. They are us.

Below: shoestrings of light tangling
the strung-out city. People living off
angers, eons-old. Fishing the pools
of it. Thin, mercury-pinked smelt.

He and she unbuttoning each other's
shirts, unable to bear their own bliss,
their quiet inside the chaos. Overhead
a great soaring engine roars

and the window rattles, and we
resist ourselves as we are,
as they are, trembling
there on the glass.