Bio Note: I think of these three poems as "poems for hard times," though they were not written during the present pandemic-stressed and apocalyptic moment (and two of them clearly don't reflect social distancing!). They all come from Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, my second full-length book of poetry, of which I am still very fond, but which is now essentially out of print. (If anyone would like a copy at a dramatically reduced price, please let me know!) My fifth book of poetry, Groaning and Singing, will come out from FutureCycle Press (which also published my fourth, Bird Flying through the Banquet), in February, 2022--which seems eons away.
In the shuttered stillness of closets, clean sheets, long married, sweeten, towels for the brow of an anguished child coolly sleep. In the dark decorum of cupboards, bowls from which to spoonfeed the sick mutely shine, cups to be lifted to trembling lips grow calm. Behind the deepening panes of houses, kindled bodies fill the cup and rinse the bowl, wash the linens and make the bed. They are luminous, flickering, and they lie down in it, they begin again.
Originally published in Portland Review (Summer, 2005).
Little mittens sewn over my knuckles, my nails, my thoughts tied close against my body like a baby's legs inside his drawstring gown: together we sink to the bottom of dark water where my phantom arms wreathe out so thin like smoke like cloudy ink. My eyes clenched like his fists are slits are seamless. Yet in the terrible world the closed eyes of creatures move: the elephant the mole the opossum hanging from his tree.
Originally published in Free Lunch (Summer, 2002).
Waiting for the Poem
is like waiting for your life when you've lived so long from yourself you look for your name in the white glare of the noonday street where the doors all fuse into light. You must ease into the dark at the end of the atoning fast, like your own shy guest at the door of the New Year, laden with honeycakes, and wine, and cascades of grapes, as if you forgave yourself like women in the last slow stretches of exercise class, taking themselves into their own tender hands, caressing the knees they press to their chests, learning to love the weight of their laboring flesh. You wait in the street, the wind suddenly stops, clouds move across the moon to an absence of music. And once, and again, the eyes of the universe darken with kindness toward you, like cats’ eyes purring closed, like embers shifting and settling, like someone opening and closing after you the warm yellow door of her house.
Originally published in Plainsong (Summer, 1991).
©2020 Judy Kronenfeld
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