Monday, March 1, 2010

Lyn Lifshin

Ballroom, Reading Room

Bring a book, better
make it two. Or a whole
encyclopedia. When you
see the guys in class, a
book's like a fan shy
Victorians hid behind.
If you don't want your
spine ripped off like some
one dumping a truck load
of books at a landfill.
Bring a book: too many
of the new dancers are
that rough in tango. I
used to think it odd, one
woman with her nose
in a book but now I sit
down when the hulk,
the motorcycle (or lets
call him falling off his
motorcycle) man moves
toward me. And if the
stench of garlic isn't for
you, bring a book as
a shield to escape to
the bench or safer go in
another room, say the
kitchen. Behind a book
you look serious, not
just trying to escape
the ones who wrench
your arm out of a socket,
turn toes blood. A book
is a noli me tangere
sign, do not touch me.
When the best ones
aren't dancing, believe
me, take a book

When, At the Ballet Barre, The Mad Girl Realizes

the only relief,
that she could
end it all, this
going thru the
motions. She is
sick of fantasy
being more real
than her life.
On the metro,
only gray. In
ballet, the gray
leaks in thru
her skin, braids
with a litany
of dreads. She
can't remember
when she stopped
looking ahead
but only backward

-both poems previously published at Unlikely Stories

Those Quilts Invite

on e mail like a gulp of rum with
honey, what my mother gave me
to keep the flu away, burning
as I swallowed. I think of the
summer it was sweltering,
jasmine and rose on my skin
so heavy somebody walked
off the train and I stopped to
wash it off at a café. I was
sweating in boots, cursed the
sun, the stain from rose oil on
my sleeve. I couldn't believe
I'd agreed to traipse into town
with bags of poems to meet in a
stranger's bedroom. With no
desk or table, we spread poems
over the bed, read for hours.
Then he stopped to bring me coke
and slid his body between the
family poems and my thighs with
the bed tilting. I slid closer to
him, felt the room become his
mouth, his body become a hard
muscle like the verbs in his
poems, his hand under my denim.
It was too late to stay, my face
rose as the scent he must have
smelled all over his body. I
had to go, was drenched and
not from the heat, throbbing, as
I am re-reading, "those quilts invite"

The Apple Orchard Man

I saw him four times
in my grandfather's Dept
Store's triple mirror,
my own cheeks pinker
than my pink pique
dress. Flourescent
lights, mountains of
house dresses still
hugging the week's heat,
he strutted down aisles
of Levis. No matter
later I heard he
was on drugs, had
three wives. When he
leaned a hip toward
me, his grin of other
dark charming men I'd
never see as danger,
I could have invited him
into the stuffy dressing
room as if that close
dark was a part of me
and I'd been waiting,
longed to lie under
his branches, have the
dark fruit glisten over
my body, saw myself
brushing long mahogany
hair in a window over
the orchard, everything in
me wild petals he could
open and coax to
bloom as wildly.

-both poems previously published at The Dublin Quarterly

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