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  • Taken Inside, and: This One
  • Maxine Kumin (bio)

Taken Inside

This is the beauty of books. They arriveinside us in the most peculiar wayswrote Colum McCann who so lovedJames Joyce that he ate a flakeof the first edition of Ulysses thathad fallen onto the blue clothin a private nook of the Berg CollectionReading Room where he could lookbut not touch.

I learned to read and write. I took insidewho made the world? God. Alsohow to pray the rosary. To this dayI can say it straight through, bead by beadthe only Jewish child at the Convent ofthe Sisters of St. Joseph next door.At the end of the corridor a twice-lifesizeJesus hung in painto my horror.

This was before the long yellow buses.My parents discussed public schoola mile away, too far for the youngestchild and only girl to walk alone.One day longing put my badright hand in my classmate's desk.That night in bed rolling the beadsI told the rosary and fell asleepblessed by Jesus [End Page 135]

but where was He the next daywhen all hell broke loose? I walkedthe lonely mile uphill to third grade.Tragic queen, I was ahead in allsubjects. I could write cursivedo long division, knew the wordsto the fourth verse of our national anthem,Jesus no longermy precious friend.

This One

The setting: moonless, pricked apart by stars.On the grassy napkin in front of the State Housea threesome with tripods and telescopes.

Two guys loping across from the local pubstop in midstride. Yeah, says the younger,You better be lookin for a new planet

cause this one's fucked. [End Page 136]

Maxine Kumin

Maxine Kumin's seventeenth collection of poetry, Where I Live: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010 (Norton), received a Los Angeles Times Book Award. A former U.S. poet laureate and winner of the Pulitzer and Ruth Lilly Prizes, she lives with her husband on a farm in New Hampshire.



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pp. 135-136
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