Sidebar: Slimming Secrets of the Stars!
Jettison your fish oil, statins, & pomegranates—
Learn, instead, from Alula Borealis, whose results
Are typical. Finding the stellar cure for gluttony
Ludicrous, she rebelled & sought sea salt, milled
By distant cousins, then tempted her constellation
With cakes. All that sugar, all that Madagascar vanilla,
Embittered with brine. She grew older, more luminous.
Gazing up, you saw her opaline corona halo the trees
Where those she’d lost had fallen. Study her example:
When everyone who loves you leaves, no nourishment
Remains—even fruit & tubers catch in your throat,
A choking compost. Learn to purge, you’re saved.
Then you may endorse shakes & treadmills, binge
On sunlight, gorge on dusk—expand, diminish, darken.
Shaken transmission from pilled black cotton,
screech of thigh on fabric on fabric on thigh—
Where are you going? And why so quick?
voices stolen by a passing pickup’s subwoofer.
In your small car, winter returns, eddies iced
with breath. Our dead parents bicker & wheeze
on the radio, then dispute news of ousted
dictators: fortified borders amplify memories
they warn (& we are precarious listeners).
Gears shift, a mortar round of keys & coins—
This is how it will be when you’re gone, if you
dial me recklessly, another prank of the afterlife.
Off Dwight Road
One deer, jew-eyed, old, stares from a neighbor’s yard,
chewing lawn. All day he’s stood to monitor our work
until the minivans, stuffed, extruding mold, crouch
in the driveway, lowriders bound for a nightmare rally—
Skip the tricked out rides—we’ve packed a half-century
of saxophones, Lionels, madras ties. Find the ‘39
World’s Fair ring, greened souvenir to turn my thumb
gangrenous. 1000 feet away, the Parkway thrums, frantic
with holiday traffic. So much like my father, long-faced,
anxious, the deer worries that his cronies, bored back
at Exit 114, will get brazen, dart into an express lane,
enthralled by chrome ignited in November dusk.
Who stole father’s sense of irony—the Hungarian
who watched him catapult across the hood, lodge
in the windshield, then fall, smashed on macadam?
Does the deer look to me because he’s my father?
Identity literal; don’t dare question this appearance.
Envy the doe, who rises from these woods on lovely
dancer’s legs. Together they chaw acid yellow leaves,
joke a bit. In the middle of New Jersey, the hunters
& predators have gone, so herds seek clearings,
fields, thickets to rest in, to rest upon. The deer claims
minor trees behind foreclosed cul-de-sac chateaus.
We watch him limp & scuffle toward the curb.
“Listen,” he says, “my four legs are killing me;
Jews were not meant to walk on cloven hooves.”
Martha Greenwald’s collection of poems, Other Prohibited Items, was the winner of the 2010 Mississippi Review Poetry Series. Her work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Slate, Poetry, Best New Poets, The Sycamore Review, Shenandoah, and many other journals. She has held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford and been awarded scholarships from both the Breadloaf and Sewanee Writers Conferences. Greenwald has also held an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council. Works in progress include Shivah Bullies, a memoir, and Well, Bless His Heart, a collection of short fiction. She has taught in the English Department at the University of Louisville since 1999.