UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY - 10/2004

LYN LIFSHIN

the other fathers

would be coming back
from some war, sending
back stuffed birds or
a handkerchief in navy
blue with Love painted
on it. Some sent telegrams
for birthdays, the pasted
letters like jewels. The
magazines for children
were full of fathers who
were doing what had
to be done, were serving,
were brave. Someone
said there'd be confetti
in the streets and maybe
no school, that soon we'd
have bananas. My father
sat in the grey chair,
war after war, hardly
said a word at dinner. I
wished he had gone away
with the others so maybe
he would be coming
back to us


like some lies we tell ourselves

the story of my father
on the phone, invited to
my wedding, bloomed then
settled into the landscape.
He's your father boy
friends would say, don't
you feel something? He
showed your poems to
Frost. The image of my
father in a chair listening
to the Dow Jones, saying
nothing hangs in the air
but yesterday I found
that letter I wrote
after my husband to be
called and my father
blurted: I don't care
about her. I don't want
to come to your wedding,
hear about it, be involved.
And I don't want to pay.
It flares open, a yucca
plant that takes 100 years
to bloom, floods the night
with a peculiar scent and
I think how 've hated
cheap men, one sign and
I'm running. I think how,
dead so long, even today
my father takes up too
much space


my uncle is dead

Scientists say everything is getting farther from
everything else, darker, more lonely. The center
of gravity is loosening, letting go. I feel my
mother drifting further into darkness. My uncle
tries to catch up. I don't talk to my sister. Repulsive

and unexpected forces, a Pandora's box the paper
says. Imagine being a raisin in a loaf where
the dough is baking, rising, The other raisins,
unloosened, now farther away. Today you forgot
to put out vitamins for me, a small act I take as

love, as my mother measured each extra
degree of heat as caring. Then, you forgot the
mail, told me I didn't load the dish washer
right, talked when you were in a room where you
couldn't hear. I wanted to leave a message on

your voice mail but a ghost voice said, "all
space is gone." Scientists say now space will be
emptier, lonelier. After the operation, we had
no galaxies except the bottom room where you
rested in a chair under the lion blanket, grateful

for soup and tea. Each complication sucked us
closer: the gravity of irregular heartbeats,
temperature over normal narrowed our universe to
a dove of down quilts, pillows that shut out the
world. When you first walked to work it seemed

a miracle but now with gravity dissolving, I feel
like an abandoned raisin, no other raisin close
enough to touch


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. (_ORDER@GODINE_ (mailto:ORDER@GODINE) ) Also 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, including MARILYN MONROE, BLUE TATTOO, won awards for her non fiction and edited 4 anthologies of women's writing including TANGLED VINES, ARIADNE'S THREAD and LIPS UNSEALED. Her poems have appeared in most literary and poetry magazines and she is the subject of an award winning documentary film, LYN LIFSHIN: NOT MADE OF GLASS, available from Women Make Movies. Her poem, "No More Apologizing" has been called "among the most impressive documents of the women's poetry movement." An update to her Gale Research Projects Autobiographical series, "On The Outside, Lips, Blues, Blue Lace," was published Spring 2003. She is working on a collection of poems about the famous, short lived beautiful race horse, Ruffian. New chapbooks include WHEN A CAT DIES and ANOTHER WOMAN'S STORY and forthcoming chapbooks include MAD GIRL POEMS, BARBIE POEMS. A new collection, Persephone, will be published by Red Hen Press. For interviews, photographs, more bio material, reviews, interviews, prose, samples of work and more, her web site is www.lynlifshin.com







2004 Underground Voices