by Lynn Strongin
“Do we see the future pass over the present’s dusky glass?” Shelley
TO RIDE horses three-quarter time; Red ponies flicker like candles across the plain,The red priest, Vivaldi, comes out of the orphanage for girls, into morning air, score in hand, he is smiling. How to tellOne cold dayFrom the next? U-turns are difficult
in love. How reframe history…The tangible, shoe-leather? In transit to Birkenau, Jews dying of thirst reached out, paid for half a cup. Illness has a ripple effect: age twelve to eighty-one: how blunt the pain?Hospital in childhood, now, Vivaldi, language slips, a rein in age. Pony, how regain?Listening to the Whiskey Bard smiling, full-throated while the moon is shining I dreamt I was cradled in newspaper: behind the homily, home:A flat-chested girl again (sitting at our stove turning the 4 dials: blue flame)A private bitterness. My cheer had dodged a bullet. The disease a gut punch. After they put childhood in the ground
This broken nest inside me singing in bed, wearing my Van Gogh nightshirt curved spine. A sunflower stops me shy of the knife. My favorite dog buried in the yard.Three friends sat down & wrote songs custom-fit.I watched the red pony on the screen in hospital, I heard the Red Priest, Vivaldi: separating cold day from cold day, the old & the new me: melded what served me best, I’d learned to knife-fight and not cry.