Lynn Strongin


Jane Austen ground her own inks:
Took hours.                Her life was near its close                she had reconfigured her rooms.
John Murray publishers took her to the cleaners.
She was a published author who slipped away
her head in her sister Cassandra’s lap:
                Under an inky, uncapturable sky, Her authorial life ended: in a readable lake could be read her slide into her eternal nap.


Reconfigured the room again: you now sleep on the floor while I
Am in an adjustable bed.
An eight is the sign of infinity turned on its side: one hand holds seven & one nine.

A mothering, a shepherding eye: birthing memory. Born to be torn in half.
Over you I cry
Over coffee, a bone pill. Stove-up. By half an hour absence done in.

Born to be elder
Must I die
                At the very least,
I’d tame the beast: the south was a horse of another color. Anger. Choler.
Who moans in night between rain & the lightest sprinkling of freezing hail combed into the infant-light
     of what promised us sun east.

This ceiling I have stared at for three months is a swathe, unchanging. Unchained?
The scaffold                this small pallet
hospital bed from the Red Cross wins the prize, a dancer holding stock-still in misery’s position.
I’d draw you nearer. Near. The landscape of ceiling blurs thru tears.

No music, no lens can capture this dark carnival, their drear forecast of winter in summer.


We are the smoke when the bees disappear:
I touch
Powdered chalks, blue & sheer       beige now near, now far:
Then push it off                pastels like patched tinged with sulphur, tipped with fear:
                A mist over a British landscape: yet still, like mists over the Blue Ridge Mountains,
     the saints of tenderness hover hauntingly near.

HAD I BEEN BORN in the Middle Ages
Would I have got about on a cart with wheels? Maybe,
I’d push myself along with a stick.
Had I written Psalms,
Esultate! My name might have been Sister Anne.
Not Anon.
Or Abigail Anne.
Flash forward: the village clock fills with fluorescence
From right to left, clockwise
Till the whole circle says five p.m. In winter
In summer light is forever. Is suffering.
Apple dot in cheek, the Queen’s dwarf
The world’s most miniature man
Set on a shelf in wax or glass is tantalizing.
               When the town crier died
               No silks nor woolens could capture his color
               Warming the night till dawn rang with rooster’s red coxcomb.

THE PARALYZED LOWER BODY long, lissome as one of Botticelli’s spring
In denim. The heart’s legs running. Thru water, grass, hay, ripples greening like spring.
Where she fell is where the angels fall from      leaving a circular hole in sky
Long legs in railroad pants, a smoke in left hand
Is cold, her hands are always cold.
She is not old.
She is winter. She is autumn.
Dramatic to spring’s lyric.
               If there is pain, it is that watery rippling shadow
She hangs, like a shawl removed,
In cafes.

Neither is her hair neither nut-brown nor ash-blond.
A guest was overheard saying to her mother “If your elder daughter were mine,
I’d dress her in clothes of Holbein.”

An imbroglio
She holds a flute in her left hand
A canary whirls around her rising in a cone to make a halo around her head
Woven hair with rose wreathe, thorns tucked in
               Climbs the stairs of Xanadu:
Depression swathes the scene with grey
Sun parts it    pastel colors glimmer, lilac, violet, ash rose
Where she goes thru the iridescent painting nobody says, nor knows.

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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