Poetry / August 2008 (Issue 4)

Four Poems

by Lyn Lifshin

But Instead Has Gone Into Woods

A girl goes into the woods
and for what reason
disappears behind branches
and is never heard from again.
We don't really know why,
she could have gone shopping
or had lunch with her mother
but instead has gone into
woods, alone, without the lover,
and not for leaves or flowers.
It was a clear bright day
very much like today.
It was today. Now you might
imagine I'm that girl,
it seems there are reasons. But
first consider: I don't live
very near those trees and my
head is already wild with branches

I Was Four, In Dotted

Swiss summer pajamas,
my face a blotch of
measles in the small
dark room over blue
grapes and rhubarb,
hot stucco cracking.
17 North Seminary.
That July Friday
noon my mother was
rushed in the grey
blimp of a Chevy
north to where my
sister Joy would be
born two months
early. I wasn't
ready either and
missed my mother's
cool hands, her
bringing me frosty
glasses of pineapple
juice and cherries
with a glass straw
as Nanny lost her
false teeth, flushed
them down the toilet
then held me so tight
I could smell lavender
and garlic in her
braided hair, held
me as so few ever
have since, as if
not to lose more

Nights It Was Too Hot to Stay in the Apartment

We drove to the lake, then stopped
at my grandmother's. The grown ups
sat in the screened porch on wicker
or the glider whispering above the
clink of ice in wet glass. Spirea and
yellow roses circled the earth under
stars. A silver apple moon. Bored
and still sweaty, my sister and I
wanted to sleep out on the lawn
and dragged out our uncle's army
blankets and chairs for a tent. We
wanted the stars on our skin, the
small green apples to hang over
the blanket to protect us from bats.
From the straw mats, peonies glowed
like planets and if there was a breeze,
it was roses and sweat. I wanted
our white cats under the olive green
with us, their tongues snapping up
moths and whatever buzzed thru the
clover. For an hour the porch
seemed  miles away until itchy with
bug bites and feeling our shirts fill
with night air, my hair grow curlier,
our mother came to fold up the blankets
and chairs and I wished I was old
enough to stay alone until dawn or
small enough to be scooped up, asleep
in arms that would carry me up the
still hot apartment stairs and into
sheets I wouldn't know were still
warm until morning

Dream of the Pink and Black Lace, Just Like the Evening Gown

my favorite in high school,
a dress I'd wanted to see
marked down and finally wrote
the store, even then, able
to get what I wanted

more easily on paper. I
told them how often I’d come
back, hoping it would be marked
down and dashed up with my
mother when they agreed
to lower the price.

I feel the swirl of those
gowns I ran my hand through,
terrified mine wouldn't
be there, then carrying it as
carefully as a baby of blown glass.

It was so full my waist
looked tiny inside it
with hoops and an eyelet bustier.
The dress took up half
my mother's closet,

less space than I did in her,
especially after she had me.
I don't think I wore it again, too
dressy, too much lace to pack.
But I can see it near the yellow

and the pink and white gauzy gowns,
swirling strapless, a part of 38
Main Street I expected to always
be as it was, like my mother
waiting for me to fill it

Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.