Lynn Strongin

Etched with first frost Belgian lace
The tea pot roasts.
There are those for whom autumn is sorrow.
I am not one,            I have been there & back again:
Winter edging in.
All the fragmentary parts of the self
Like ice floats capture white sky
A five & dime to quickly nab a tee

"My uncle stokes the cabin’s ironblack stove 
with a short rod. The flames that come are his 
loves. I cook — chile panameño, coconut milk…"
—Jacob Shores-Argüello 


FOUNDLING HOSPITAL            STANDS in Lamb’s Conduit Field
Since 1739            established by philanthropic sea captain
We’re both at our button boards while trees rock outside.
The longshot is great age
Silvering all things:
The foundling hospital stands
Gathering in at first one hundred, then in the thousands of London children 
Rowena tucks her hands in her apron
I bandage gauze across the amputation.
Before turning a lightbulb on all is plunged in milky darkness.
The cat of forever laps with sandpaper tongue.
The Hiroshima maidens
Death marred, scarred, burned in.
Lamb’s Field London
Like that legacy of art & imagination that dot the banks of the Riverside & Mohawk.
Before I cross the  street I cross myself
The silent prayer
While one hundred, then thousands of children are culled in London’s huge post
Foundling Hospital.
O Lamb’s field, what number of cots
Of pure desire you held. If I am shorn of my voice of south sweet corn
I am come into my elder voice, the stronger one.

THIS IS NOT THE NABE my foundling world
Have I been shorn            of a voice like south-sweet corn?
The shrill voice of the chanting boy            in alcove of the temple
Where birds are shrieking “Borning time.”
But I am shorn
Orphan whirling in space around a small sun in a galaxy waiting to be found.
O you gloss me brown-eyed girl
This foundling is not fueled by the world.

MAGNETIC pull toward poverty?
A bolt in the jaw
Form the tibia, in the leg.
The raptor beak drops the tiny body of the schoolgirl.
Think of a Romanov child, hands folded in lap, that grace.
Think of night’s black hood, elegant grieving was ours
Was hers above all.
I lie in pain, to rise. “Is it a pill or trip to the loo?”
She asks. .“I can get the pill,”  she lays it under my tongue.
It is intimate as breast feeding.
Then giggling, a long legged child she says “Just think! The tea party comes to town.”
I think of scroll saws, the daring, nerve to use them.
“Impersonal chill confronting personal desolation.:
Is that arm of the doll burned, like one of the Hiroshima Maidens, beyond mending.
Still harnessed to this world
I am the medieval child in the basket, rocking.
Feigning sleep, up all night listening for secrets:
why there are punishments,
what news bad weather brings,
how things get winnowed out. (Lucie-Brock-Broido)
Like her I take personae:
These nights it is the Foundling Hospital
Long ago in Lamb’s world
The chill reign, the cold rains of Britain falling.

JOSEPHINE COLLEGE, in bluejeans, with you I go in browns melding
In with the dream the ardent impress of autumn
Blooded as the stag
After hound.
You wear the blues of all skies
I wear bark browns
Still tree climbing: pain on the outside of the body
Climbing            a still photograph by Bertinski
Who shot industrial ruins to make of them poems.

THIS WORLD I FIND is foundling from the core
Left in a basket
To breathe bruised winds
Busied by a multitude of other things
Passing me in the fast lane
Where I stare at a world as thru a bandaged eye from some Civil War of a century before.
First the elm tops started feathering.
The cuckoo sang.
That was back last April.
Now the whole city ignites from an early morning bluster of coals 
not put out properly by the baker’s girl last night.
Narrow streets make fire move fast
A leopard
Grabbing a clawful of steeples
Bells ring crazily                 as though mapped mirrors cracked along their fault lines.            So cracks 
the acrobats spine & legs fall still. Bells are cannon are ice combined.
First on silent paws the beast leaps      then wild acrobat
It springs, branches crackles the noise is deafening:
It puts life out.
      I cannot image being unhappy in the face of heartfire. But this. . .
Still named “caller” by the operator of this Victorian town
I reach back for  memory when It was spring
Like Naava who, thru a lifetime of storytelling
Has not run out.
It all began
With stretchers at age five
When she'd bring home a book instead of a page
And then the second volume:
At last the Frozen Thames in heart cracks making canon sounds, when, nearing eighty occasionally her lips fall silent only to begin moving in sleep again. Her lover leans in to catch a word
By only syllables such as pass felled by  sound like Amen but try as she might to catch them like feathers in her hand, her lover cannot cup a nest
So leans back into sleep again            winter-silent “ion” the last two syllables come and winter blazes orgasm-orange.

Knees bent,     
      Clouds are mahogany
Later ebony thunderheads:
Sky is tea-biscuit color
Parchment as rice paper
Documents rolled up with ribbons?
In the poor light
reap what has been sown.
Bent over
Holding a book by Anna Akhmatova in hand
Curled in an attic space till it curved her spine into the letter “S” a bow for an arrow
She shot forth hope, Carrie Ten Boom, waiting mon protégé
Waiting, waiting
For protection hour to come.

A Pulitzer Prize nominee several years ago for SPECTRAL FREEDOM, Lynn Strongin has been nominated five times for the Pushcart Prize, and this year for the Lambda Award. Received an NEA creative writing grant in New Mexico in the seventies. Studied with Denise Levertov, Robert Duncan, and others.
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