Early Winter in the Psychiatric Ward

by Chloe Honum

The counselor plays his game of questions.
If you could live in any time period,
he asks us, when would you live?

Now, the manic boy answers, as though jumping
to the head of the queue to enter the present.
Not now, the Vietnam vet says.

It’s too violent, and he talks about the late
Fifties, the Friday nights
dancing at the Showboat.

Outside, the rain comes to a feathery end.
The geese introduce themselves to dusk
with ragged cries. Winter at their backs,

they heave upward.
Their wings open like old, heavy books,
their stories veering into the wild.

CHLOE HONUM is the author of The Tulip-Flame, winner of Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Award, the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and the Texas Institute of Letters Best First Book of Poetry Award, and a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The Paris ReviewThe VoltaCopper Nickel, and The Southern Review, among other journals. She was raised in Auckland, New Zealand.