Marsha Smith Janson holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College. Her poems have appeared widely in journals, including Lyric, Jubilat, The Alaska Quarterly Review, Harvard Review and The Best American Poetry 2000. She has completed her first collection of poems entitled Letters Written In This Life, Mailed From The Next, which is actively seeking a publisher. She has been a recipient of The Massachusetts Cultural Council's Artist Fellowship award. After many years of living elsewhere she has returned to live in Northampton with her husband and daughter and is employed as a casemanager for people living with chronic mental illness.


Marsha Smith Janson '87


1,000 Cranes


Try standing in the rain until
someone opens a window and sings you in.
A voice like fingertips on the rim of your glass.
Or riding a rusted-out bicycle against the wind,
up a series of increasingly steep hills
just to arrive at your girlfriend’s house
as she’s slid into the passenger seat
of someone’s car, not yours.
It must be Vermont. The winter nights
so long and enduring you’ll want
to name them. Then in spring
when the sugar maples begin to weep
and the creek in the backyard spills over
into the basement, more naming.
The house rocking back and forth
the way a person does on her heels
when considering. How much should I tell you?
I’ve come this far into the story
and now I realize there are too many hills
between setting out and sitting down
unburdened in the middle of the path.
Sing it again. You’ve got to lay down your sorrows.
You’ve got to trust in the mind behind your mind.
At the end of the day you’ve got to
fold your fear into the shape of an animal,
one of your own choosing.
And then you’ve got to set the animal free.
Horses to the pasture, birds to the sky.



Published in Lyric, 2006