Lyn Lifshin, US




Free Verse

from Cove Point

Music Hall

If there was a lover I could
imagine, his thighs would
take me over the brass. If
I could remember when the
bow or strings could have
been a tongue on the crevice
where knee and hip join.
If I could feel what I feel in
the cat’s fur, re-reading
Ruffian’s last hours. I
think of the Cadbury in my
pocket book, the winter once
he held me. In a drawer,
the sales slip:1921, sold to
my grand father before
he changed his name, good
quality. German. 360 dollars,
so my mother could star.
It was the reason she named
me Rosalyn Diane, a name
for the stage. I try to remember
the feel of the strings. “Talented”
“Never screeched.” I watch
the first violinist, rhinestones
in her hair, black velvet
skirt near the one with short
stubby legs in what looks like
shorts she shouldn’t be
wearing. The sing is nice,
making her cooing sounds. Years
after I throw glass as if to get
it out of me when my husband
ran off, he’s at the box office
in line near me a friend says
and like this night, I don’t
not feel anything




lets say it’s been as long ago since I
was then, almost. It was July. Or maybe
June, a day even the clouds seemed
scary. All Saturday I hunted for the
words for what went wrong. He was
a hunk in films and at the colony, there
was electricity. I wanted to pull back
what it felt like to lose everything
besides unease, so I wouldn’t let myself
go thru it again. Not long ago I found
the section when he said I whined, was
crying and then left in the middle of
the night. I needed those words for a
token, to resist reading again with him
on another coast. Enough I still have his
sweater. He left on my birthday, enough
to drag me from the room the couch
broke in to an old lover’s downstate
arms. Days like a horror movie where I
felt too scared to not leave the sheets
he left. I was on automatic, amazed I
could walk out of the house and drive as
if I really was there, as not there as a
voice on a dead friend’s answering
machine months after she is buried. And
what differences, that he called, was
miss me in those old phone calls,
in the letters he remembers me in
wrong clothes, my legs better than they
could be. Or that the words are in my
blood still, and why not, putting my hands
on them in the few minutes I had in
that house I’m in as little as he was,
makes me feel as abandoned




When I can’t find the photographs
of my mother, it’s like losing her
again. There she was, her teeth
still white, raven hair the Charles
River wind sweeps away from where
she was laughing with the man who
wrote, “to my angel from her
Arthur,” on the bottom. You know
he is real in poems I wrote about
this shot, wondering if there is
a similar one in his (if he had them)
kids’ attic, signed Teddy, the name
my mother choose. This photograph
of the 2 laughing, on my refrigerator
upstate is a piece of my body and
not finding it is like seeing lines
on my skin grow deeper. My mother
must have been mid twenties, her
perfect smile, her gleaming. She was
about to buy a new camisole this
tall man was sure was for him. With
out her smiling and free, the shreds
of laughing left in the mirror,
harden, clench. I want my mother
in that photograph before the lines of
her face began drawing back, when
you could still see the joie de
vivre everyone wrote she had in her
college year book. When I can’t
touch this photograph, I lose
a piece of myself that held her






Read Additional Poems from Lyn Lifshin's books

in Sketchbook: February 28, 2008: Volume 3, No. 2

 from Cove Point: Cove Point, Door Mat, Better To Just Let It Go

from January Poems 2006: January 3, 2006, On The Metro To Ballet, January, Metro

in Sketchbook: March 31, 2008: Volume 3, No. 1

from Cove Point: Music Hall, Diary, Photograph

from January Poems 2006: January 4 Rage, January Rage, Rage, January 4







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