Welcome to this month’s poetry classroom, with poet and professor Marjorie Maddox. We invite you to respond to the poems we’ll share here—their forms, images, sounds, meanings, surprises—ask questions of Marjorie and each other, and write your own poems along the way.
On this side of plate glass,
the Pennsylvania sky threatens
no one, calms us with what we aren’t,
such perfect summer squall the calm
we love in morning
coffee and split croissant.
Those behind the counter
know us and know
when to save what we want,
can order for us, smile at how we smile
at each other’s drenched winsomeness. You are
not what I ordered but what I order now
across the café table, across the morning
spread with such delectable savor.
1. The speaker claims to be on the inside of plate glass. How would the poem be different if, say, the speaker and her love were on the other side of a wall instead of glass?
2. The speaker says “we love in morning” and follows this up with coffee and a “split croissant.” What if the poet had used the word “broken” instead of “split”? Would that lend a different feel to the poem? Would it matter?
3. Consider the way the line break at “I order now” might lend some tension to the poem. What balances the tension? Maybe you don’t see it as tension in the first place. If so, why?