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  • The Wittenberg Backdoor Bar, and: Margaret's Rose
  • Jean Janzen (bio)

The Wittenberg Backdoor Bar

For my seventieth birthday my daughtertransforms our living room into a bar—black sheets over windows, candles onsmall tables, the family gathered.She has provided a karaoke playerto fulfill my old dream to sing love songsinto a microphone. I've entered throughthe back to croon "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"while my young grandson works the fogmachine, the pianist shifts foundationswith jazzy chords, and the bass playerhugs the deep hollow as he bends and plucks.No theses nailed to the front door,no confrontations. Only a dialoguebetween voice and instruments abouta "lovely flame dying" as I enter myeighth decade in a sleek black dressand a tune, another cry for embrace. [End Page 30]

Margaret's Rose

She painted it large for a queenbed, her arms moving in arcs,the outside petals flirting

with the fabric's edge. Arcover arc, like the world openingat dawn, shades of pink and yellow

bleeding freely. And in the centera cluster of stamens dusted with gold.The quilters arrived with threaded needles.

How to fasten down a full-blown rose?So she marked a flow of streamsand waves for their stitches,

and at the outside borders, small,perfect squares to keep the petalsfrom falling, as night after night I sleep

under it at peace, covered withthe fibers and pigments of the fields,and the extravagance of another day. [End Page 31]

Jean Janzen

Jean Janzen has six collections of poetry, the most recent titled Paper House (Good Books). Entering the Wild, a memoir, is forthcoming. She is the recipient of a NEA award and has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.



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