LYN LIFSHIN


Lyn Lifshin's recent prizewinning book (Paterson Poetry Award) Before It's
Light
was published winter 1999-2000 by Black Sparrow press, following
their publication of Cold Comfort in 1997. Another Woman Who Looks Like
Me
will be published by Black Sparrow-David Godine in September 2004.
Recently published is A New Film About A Woman In Love With The Dead,
March Street Press. She has published more than 100 books of poetry, won
awards for her non fiction and edited four anthologies of women's writing.
For more information, visit www.lynlifshin.com.






Past The Abandoned Railroad

where boys tried to lean
into a nipple if you walked
thru the thick wet leaves
of Frog Alley where tourists
sip cappuccino on the wrought
iron chairs. When, finally,
someone asked me to dance
he tried to put his tongue
in deep, his fingers past my blue
dress dotted with rhinestones
near where we bowled on New
Years Eve and Sylvia, the tall
elegant woman told me later
I had lovely skin. From the
bridge at Otter Creek, the old
marble mill grew rivulets
of ice, like bars, as if to cage
the cold, the frozen spiders.
Someone buried marbles
ground to dust past the college
spires, the last thing the girl
with a baby growing in
her saw flashing by as she
jumped into the whirlpool's
icy logs. Some nights I
was sure I could hear her
moaning as the falls crashed,
spit ice up to Main Street
and I ran, as if the crush of
cold froth was a lure




When He Says You Never Write Any Good Poems About Me

I think by "good" he means "sex". Poems
about stopping on back roads in the car with
a bigger front seat, not even waiting for
a road off a road but pulling velvet and denim
off like roast skin from a turkey. I don't tell
him, maybe I should but the poems dripping
love juice and pubic hair were written when
I wasn't getting any. A virgin after eight years,

my mind was never not on erotic movies in
my head where even the music was the in and
out of bodies. I had time in the raised ranch
to dream a man would emerge from the trees,
fantasize slow afternoons behind chiffon drapes
in the bed of white silk until it ripped. Years my
arms ached for more than the tiger cats and
the buff kitten. If a man wrote me from some

coast I opened on paper to him, came on to
strangers and convicts on the page. Those sheets
always felt safe enough to let them know their
words got me wet, even my hair was horny. I
wrote about what wasn't there, what left a hole
I was terrified I'd drown in. "Writing like a hippie
but living like a nun," a magazine quoted me
and probably I said it. It was the way those in

the concentration camp talked of food, of seeing
light, the moon, were famished for the smell of
bread. Fantasized chicken, apples, beef, all the things
they'd never thought much about when they had
more than they could devour as, baby, I do now




When I Think of Him Leaving

I imagine I'll go first, roll
the Persian rugs into a
wheelbarrow I can bury
the computer in, take out
to the woods past the pond.
Poems will be full of the
moon, a little pine, hickory.
Nobody to tell me to turn
off the radio, the light.
Some nights I take inventory,
move deeper into the teal
and mauve of the rug, the
wild reds spattered thru
slate like a map with symbols
in code, something from the
16th century where a woman
beaten by her husband, or
worse, had her tongue cut
off. Though no longer able to
tell the story with her mouth,
wove the blood tale between
peacocks and willows. If I feel
alone in the trees I could
wrap in their warmth,
bring their mystery into poems
that will take on the scent of
night magnolias and dark mahogany




Mother and Daughter Photographs

My mother and sister
near an old black seventies
Chevy. My sister in a
nest between my mother's
arms. You can just see
certain parts of my mother,
like a branch in a back drop.
I'm in several with
her, standing in the back, her
arms around me, her prize
melon, a book just she
would write. I remember
the rabbi said enjoy
your wedding, after that
it will be your husband
and your child. I've
noticed this in several
other photos of mothers
with their girls, the
daughter held up close in
front like someone with
a desperate sign, words
pointing west or saying
Hartford. The daughter
almost blots the mother
out. It's as if there
was some huge dark hole
only a camera would pick
up where something that
had got away had been




Back to Front.