Three Poems by Karol Nielsen

The Fountain

On my way home from a long walk in Central Park,
I saw the fountain by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The flowing water looked like synchronized swimmers,
like whale spouts, shooting up and down,
and hula hoops spinning around. I had walked by endless times,
but this was like seeing it for the first time.

Shakespeare’s Garden

I sat on a bench, raw logs,
shaved clean almost
in Shakespeare’s Garden.
The magnolias were bursting,
and the cherries,
and Japanese plum.
A photographer
held his lens high to
the pink, white, and purple buds,
snapping, looking,
snapping. Across the
sky, the apartment towers
looked grand,
like church steeples,
graceful, gothic spires.
And I thought of you,
painting this scene,
with me by your side.

Lunch Hour

I was on my lunch hour in a deli with seating for customers. It was late in the afternoon and nearly empty. I almost skipped lunch because I’d had a donut for breakfast. But I couldn’t bear the day without a break so I bought an iced coffee and slowly sipped it while reading Mary Oliver poems about birds and nature and the divine on my kindle for iPhone. Its small screen fit the poems perfectly. Suddenly I was inspired to write my own lines even though I didn’t have a poem.

About the author

Karol Nielsen is the author of the memoirs Black Elephants (Bison Books, 2011) and Walking A&P (Mascot Books, 2018) and the chapbooks This Woman I Thought I’d Be (Finishing Line Press, 2012) and Vietnam Made Me Who I Am (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Her first memoir was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in nonfiction in 2012. Excerpts were honored as notable essays in The Best American Essays in 2010 and 2005. Her full poetry collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry in 2007. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Guernica, Lumina, North Dakota Quarterly, Permafrost, RiverSedge, and elsewhere. She has taught writing at New York University and New York Writers Workshop. 

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