'Mono No Aware' & 'Up Early': Two Poems by Courtney O'Banion Smith


Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence, a transient wistfulness as well as a

deeper, gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life

After the betrayal, she bought herself

flowers, but only the ones on clearance—

bunches in clear cellophane rotting in buckets

hidden but discoverable

by those who knew where to look

in the grocery store’s floral department.

Every time she imagined the other women,

she bought bunches of mums

shedding purple tear-shaped petals when jostled,

wilted roses, rainbow-hued buds too open and bruised,

or limp poms, heads downcast with all they’d seen.

Pretty soon, each room had its own bargain bouquet

pieced together with blooms on their way out—

just enough beauty left in them

to prove that, for a moment,

something beautiful had existed

even if her dream couldn't possibly last.



Blind-broken, Texas sun already hot,

my father'd stand in my doorway, stained cap

in hand, a sweaty alarm clock set on

telling me how half the day's gone by nine.

Smelling of cut grass or manure, he loved

telling me, no matter how old I was,

how I never got up early enough.

He knew, out of necessity, the day's

potential wakes before the light begins.

Now, as I leave in the quiet dark to beat

rush hour, my sons sleep just as ignorant

as I was. What other wisdom of his

will I find as the years without him

accumulate one sunrise at a time?


Courtney O'Banion Smith writes, teaches, and parents in Houston, Texas. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University-San Marcos a long time ago. Her work has appeared in several publications including ReliefSyntax and Salt, and Barren Magazine. Find her in the Ether at www.cobanionsmith.com or @cobanionsmith.

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