Saturday, July 16, 2016

Two Poems by Lyn Lifshin


North of Cotton Wood

               rose lichen
                    gamble oak
                         globe mallow

               bent in rain
                    blue lupine
                    juniper mistletoe

     it rains and keeps raining

these rocks
               pulled from each other

     two million years ago

          wrenched like a woman
whose child is grabbed

               on a cattle car

                    smashed into stone

her eyes, streaked
     like tonight's sky

   a Monday, all sipapu,
     a spirit entrance
          into the underworld



Arizona Ruins

Past Mogollon River
          the limestone ruins
scrape it with your finger
                    and the floor breaks

                              The talc
                    must have dusted
          their dark
bodies as they squatted on these
          floors grinding
mesquite and creosote

No one knows
          where they went
                    from the cliffs
          with their
                    earth jars and sandals

Or if they
cursed the
          desert moon
                    as they wrapped
their dead
          babies
                    in bright cloth
                              and jewels.

2

Now cliff swallows
          nest in the mud
                   where the Sinaqua
          lived
                   until water ran out

High in these white cliffs
          weaving yucca and cotton
                    How many nights did they listen
                                        for cougar
                    as they pressed the wet
                             rust clay
                    into bowls
          they walked
200 miles to trade in Phoenix
          before it was time to leave

40 years
before Columbus

3

Noon in the
caves

          it is summer the
                    children are sleeping

The women
          listen to a story
          one of them has heard
          of an ocean

                    Deerflesh dries in the sun
          they braid
willow stems
          and don't look up

When she
is done
          they are all
stoned on what could come
                    from such water

It is cool and dark
          inside here

                    This was the place

4

The others
have gone to find
salt and red
          stones for earrings

climb down

                    To look for lizards
          and nuts he

          takes the girl he
wants
          for the first time

                    Her blood cakes
                              on the white chalk
floor

                    Her thighs

                              will make a bracelet
                                        in his head

5

Desert bees
          fall thru the wind
                    over the pueblos
                              velvet ash and barberry

They still find

                                                                    bodies
          buried in the wall
                               a child's bones
                    wrapped in yucca leaves
                              and cotton

bats fly thru the
          ruins now
                    scrape the charred
          walls white

                              The people left
                    the debris of their lives here
          arrows, dung
                               And were buried
                    with the bright
          turquoise they loved
                    sometimes carved
          into animals and birds





Lyn Lifshin has published over 140 books and chapbooks and edited three anthologies of women's writing including Tangled Vines that stayed in print 20 years, And Ariadne's Thread from HBJ, and Unsealed Lips, from Capra Press.  She has several books from Black Sparrow books:  Cold Comfort, Before It's Light, Another Woman Who Looks Like Me.  Her web site, www.lynlifhsin.com, shows the variety of her work from the equine books, The Licorice Daughter:  My Year with Ruffian and Barbara:  Beyond Brokenness, to the most recent book:  Secretariat:  The Red Freak, The Miracle, all from Texas Review Press and on Amazon, as all her other books are.  Recent books about dance include:  Ballroom, Knife Edge and Absinthe:  The Tango Poems.  Other new books include:  For the Roses, poems for Joni Mitchell, All the Poets Who Touched Me, Living and Dead All True, Especially the Lies.  Most recently:  Girl Goes Into the Woods from New York Quarterly Books; Malala, from Poetic Matix; Tangled as the Alphabet:  The Istanbul Poems from NightBalletand out most recently from Glass Lyre Press:  Femme Eterna:  Enheducanna, Scheherazade and Nefertiti.  Forthcoming books include Degas' Little Dancer, Through Stained Glass, and Maple.  She has given readings and workshops around the country and has had fellowships to Yaddo, Millay Colony and MacDowell colony.  She is the recipient of many awards including Bread Loaf scholarships, The Kerouac Prize and a New York State Caps grant, etc.



3 comments:

  1. No one quite like Ms. Lifshin.

    And the major domos will some day recognize that when they grow a tad weary of Sylvia Plath and Sharon Olds. Nothing wrong with Plath and Olds but Lifshin is with them and has been for decades.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I learn something new about writing from her every time.

    ReplyDelete