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Elephant at my Window               Lifted

         Suffocation           I Left My Heart

 

Elephant at my Window

 

Thereís an elephant disguised as a tree outside my window

It bends and waves its long trunk so enthusiastically

there must be a whole herd of them coming in my direction

It is a long way from Africa

here in my bedroom

where grey light plays games with the sun

and dances like a safari

wild jungle on my wall.

 

  

Cheryl Moskowitz

in children's poetry collection, Can It Be About Me?,

2009, Circle Time Press, ISBN 978-0-9564082-0-4

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Lifted

 

Red scarecrow girl/a slip of a thing/this hollow dried out twig of a thing,

 

blackbird eyes darting like a Don't Look Now vision/object of derision

caught her on CCTV/this hint of a thing/shivering skin-and-bone stick of a thing

rattling about in a size ten coat, ten sizes too big for her frame.

 

This man/this guard/this brick of a thing/this thick-skinned/hard-nosed prick of a thing,

sausage pink fingers came right up behind her, grabbed her shoulder

like porcelain china/such a fragile delicate chip of a thing.

 

The room where they took her/a pit of a thing/windowless/nowhere to sit of a thing,

they poked and they prodded and picked at the girl/said they'd call the police

and tell all the world what a low-down/uncivilised trick of a thing and she shook.

 

This creature/this bird/this wishbone-thin little flit of a thing/featherless/

fatherless spit of a thing she blanked all the voices and fingers and pointing she left them all there

with their out-of-nose jointing and flew from the room through the back of her mind

this practically invisible/wholly derisible/breakable/shakable/bit of a thing.

 

 

Cheryl Moskowitz

published in ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 3, 2009,

Second Light Publications, ISBN 978-0-9546934-6-6

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Suffocation

 

And the chatter

Ö  the chatter.

It seems to be less and less important

now

to be where the action is.

 

I am more and more certain

I am not missing anything,

content to sit here

above the party

watching the stars.

 

The air is like glue

and only the breeze squeezing through the open window

makes it less thick

tonight.

 

My babyís breath

rides in like waves.

She is reminding me of her presence,

close-knit,

like a too tight jumper, we two

in unison

above the drunken conversation.

I, stuck to my sheets

and her, on her pillow.

 

The night is black;

deathly still, yet oddly animated.

Like death.

An animalís fur ruffles,

a spiderís leg twitches

and the air dances insanely in our room,

wafting intoxication

and the lively chatter,

the chatter.

 

 

Cheryl Moskowitz

published in Critical Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 2,

Summr 1990, ISSN 0011 1562

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I Left My Heart

 

I.  Muir Wood  

 

The Park ranger said thereíd be a storm

by the weekend said thatís a good thing

the creek will rise up and the Coho will return

to spawn in freshwater. Three years of feasting

 

on Pacific fruits and they come back to starve

in the red wooded shade of Sequoian giants -

centenarians who measure life slowly in rings -

and watch them return, fry to fingerling.

 

The fish are jumping. They rinse the salt

from their scales forget the taste of the sea

push upstream to riffle and then lie still

in the same gravel bed of their infancy

 

each salmon death silver pink

a new beginning.

 

 

II.  You must remember this

 

You asked me for news. On Tuesday

I cut his nails they had grown too long.

If I was his mother I would have known

to bite them off feeling gently with my

 

tongue for sharp edges protecting the

soft pads of his fingertips shielding them

with my teeth. I use these clippers clumsily

but only once he winced. A kiss is just a kiss

 

and when I was finished, he smiled.

I could never have done that alone, he said.

The fundamental things apply. Once you

watched your dying friend be washed and

 

shaved for the last time by his youngest brother.

The tenderest act, you said and so it was

with my fatherís fingernails that will grow again

and keep growing after everything else has stopped.

 

 

III.  Opera Cafť

 

San Francisco is not my town, he said,

as though that might explain his confusion

being taken out on city streets where

tail lights flash bright from red to white

 

wet rain falls gutters rise and conversation

between strangers buzzes like a bulb

that needs replacing. Where would you

call home? I asked him, ordering Russian

 

cabbage soup thinking Pittsburgh and

knowing that questions are no longer the

thing that can be answered. The morning fog

may chill the air I donít care. He had no

 

appetite for cabbage which in any case was

not like the one he remembered but

when they brought the cake - chocolate with one

candle - eight waiters in white aprons

 

and cummerbunds sang happy birthday

with operatic grace and I salted the soup  

with my crying leaving that part of me there,

washed by rainwater, soaked dry by sawdust,

 

still beating

on the floor of Maxís Deli.

 

 

Cheryl Moskowitz

published in Long Poem Magazine, Issue 1, Winter 2008/2009

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