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The Scrambler
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If One More Person Asks Me "Are you still writing"
I want to snarl
“do you still breathe?”
Or have you decided
you are tired of
doing it, have found
other less boring
ways to spend your
time.
Do I still
write?
as if it was
something I chose
like ordering
cappuccino  instead
of café au lait.
Do you still feed
your cat or dog? Do
you still bathe?
And what about that
baby you’ve got
inside that carriage,
is it wearing the
same diaper it wore
its first day?
Like the Woman Who's Father Wrote Calligraphy on Her Body
could only want men
who later did, as if
she was rare paper,
the only surface
worthy of their words.
It was as if even the
act, the attention to
each curve of ink,
the whiteness of
her body, and the
way each letter
was a caress and
how, absent, what was
deepest inside him
was part of her, was
in her blood, would
grow as she would and
be the last thing she
could hold on to,
be there when she
died, even if he wasn’t.
With You
it was like an
unfinished book,
so much suggested.
It still is haunting.
There was a story
each hour you
held me but who
and what would
come next, always
a mystery, up for
conjecture. It
was always some
thing on the
verge of, a gloss
of simultaneous
isolation and
hopelessness. I
could have been
the woman in a slip
in an Edward
Hopper painting,
clutching a book, a
suitcase under my
air still waiting
for you
When I Read Some Neanderthals had Red Hair
those beetle browed cousins
of ancestral humans who
went mysteriously  extinct
30,000 years ago often depicted
as dark haired and swarthy
but now studies show at least
some had fair skin and red hair.
Somehow, moving north, they
had less need for sun, protective
dark pigments in skin. Without
heat and light, red hair bloomed,
skin grew snow and ivory. I
know what that’s like. My hair
mahogany when we first met,
look at my wedding photos,
tan as Capezio sun tan tights,
black hair long as Pocahontas.
Look at me now. You might
think I’d migrated from a
place sunny as Africa. When
darkness bloomed my night curls
were tipped with flame. It was
as if the sun was thirsty for them.
Next the red went fire. Think
October leaves. Then, suddenly
pale blond hair when the sun
got even smaller, gold and
then platinum. Then his shadow
blocked the light.
*Lyn Lifshin lives in Virginia.
For more, go to her
website.