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DEBORAH SCHWARTZ

Deborah Schwartz is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Wind of the House, Voice of the Stream, of the Dream That you Dream, While We Turn You Around (Kattywompus Press, 2022,) and A Girl Could Disappear Like This (Kattywompus Press, 2019.) She is a Professor in the English Department at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, MA, where she is a founding member of the Sum Poets, a collective of gender fluid, queer, and female student and faculty poets. She lives with her wife on the Boston Harbor in East Boston across from the tall buildings that make up the city.



TWENTY-SIX YEARS AGO, I TOOK HER TO A MOVIE

hoping for entertainment and happy with the candy.


I thought that we could make out, but the movie set was Poland.

1939 while the German tanks came rolling.

In the dark together not touching, she cried a little as the last Klezmer

played. In the lobby, an old person walking to the bathroom


fell upon her. She helped the man straighten back out

and I fell for her for good.


*


Great Uncle Yitzcok with those tattooed numbers on your inner arm


how you laugh like salt stippled across a sky. Look it's snow, Izzie.

So gentle it melts on our jacket collars.


Though my aching is utterly my own, there’s the archaic evening sky

cinema screen reaching me. Telegraphically, I am listening


while everything is speaking.



HOLDING A SWORD


I cut out the tongues

of my mother's

and grandmother's

devil-lineage to feel free,

to see what grows there.

What grows there

is loneliness. I ring out

my loneliness to the great

murky East Boston Ocean

silently, while planes fly

so close I can almost

touch one. Body, move

through your childhood

house, flashlight strapped

to your ribs. Reveal yourself.

For the moon reveals herself

as the wingspan of a great

bird. I may now feel

a sorrowfulness

of language written

in the hot blue

alphabet, a plunge

of my own sword

into my own ribs

to quiet the beating

of frayed wings

while I watch the bird

leave my grandmother's

grave to circle the forbidden

& leftover heat of dusk.

Nancy, beloved,

though I love you

I hate you, and me. Ma,

Grandma tied you to a chair.

Ma, you taught me to fight

but only for others. Nancy,

our once-poor-white

devil-lineages—

Irish Catholics & Jews,

women's hands, tying

their own mouths

with twine and wire.

Devora Cecile

& Nancy Kayne.

I peer at the great blue

East Boston Ocean,

while a girl sings

out to the waves.

I ring out

my loneliness

to the great blue

and murky

East Boston ocean

while a plane comes

so very close, I do

touch it. When I release

the plane from my hands,

I hold my mother’s soul,

so it won't hurt so.



IT'S NOT EASY WHEN GERTRUDE STEIN IS YOUR MOTHER


Round house of branches

a weeping tree that moves in the yellow wind of spring

while we each feel the mother

though would never, ever say so.


In my house, I hear the heart of the next-door neighbor

as I watch him drink water from his red metal water bottle, dented.


I wave my hands


and stick my head back into the desert of my neck.


This man and I can run with horses in our own meadows


where we are given a jade necklace each, that of course, we keep.

While I attack a building


and kung fu a cloud, I am also becoming

a pauper-teacher, a disbeliever

the mother of a new language

but not entirely.



I HAVE TO KISS YOUR MOUTH TO UNGLUE MY OWN


I bring a bouquet of Queen Anne's Lace

sputtering an aura of fluttering butterflies.

As you hold my gift, I let you watch me

undress, save a lapis necklace.

I am an owl that has lost a wing then regrows it.

As I talk my silver words hurt. Come here.

Let me take some words back. A drop of water

on my finger. The river we will swim in when

we're done hurting. I can't stop myself from freeing

the necklace, pointing the Monarchs

toward Chile while a mustard seed propagates

through air, while anti-love plays a made-up instrument

including us. In the dark, you go out for your run.

I eat a persimmon to numb my tongue. Nancy,

nothing and no one takes this long to return

except stars in their attraction to the earth

as they slumber in the ground to reburst into

a wet air full of bees. I am so unaccustomed

to having my beautiful body. I don't like falling stars,

their extinguishing for good. Nancy, please return.

Help me stay focused. I am worried about the fish

and oak. Hey, small kingdom, you’ve come back.

I can't help but bring you someone trying to be me.

Look Nancy, I'm balancing a cup of milk.






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