In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Snow Day, and: The Sorrow Triptych, and: The Arts, and: The Moment on Stage II, and: The Beginning of Time, and: Anger: The Rape
  • Alicia Ostriker (bio)

Snow Day

Today the old woman feels like making a fool of herself in front of her husband and kids and grandkids who are all taking off to ski in the nice fresh glittery powder while she does dishes and sweeps so before they pile into the van what does she do she runs out in her hat mittens boots and runs a big circle in the white drifts of the yard then falls backward in the middle and makes snow angel wings with her arms—she thinks time enough for dignity when I die yes right they laugh

Black enough cold enough odorless enough motionless enough in her jacketed layers while mud iced into needles girdles her in its imprisoning steel fingers the dry bulb struggles to lay to rest that memory of a dark red life while above her wild snow is swirling like Isadora’s shawl like a Scriabin étude irresistibly white and as night descends and as she tries to sleep shadowy flakes fly sideways in streetlamp light traffic slows we feel that mysterious peace of an evening snowfall but the bulb is cold

When the sun lifts off and paints the snowy glare bright fuchsia we are already harnessed panting hot with desire the hearts in our chests aroar the lungs pulling in icicle air ten of us yapping my dear cousins lined up elated we were created for this born says the dog to run hundreds of miles across the white Alaskan wilderness man we are strong each of us alone can pull twenty times our weight [End Page 17] trained together we are invincible let this heavenly snow keep coming thinks the dog to be banded together with friends is to be free

The Sorrow Triptych

The gift of tears said the old woman sipping her tea like the gift of laughter is a kind of cleansing a rinsing out I discovered this as a child when my grandfather died I cried a lot prayed for him each night grew a little older a little more free

You see me droop said the dark red tulip you see my violent redness growing a little brown a little dry where I was moist you see the hinges of my petals subtly loosen like old roof tiles like a heavy flag taken down and folded up while the day is still bright the sun still shining [End Page 18]

I try always to be obedient to do the pleasing thing in bed with them I don’t bounce around I am quiet as can be It’s so nice lying between them under their cotton quilt they smell so good said the dog there was no reason to make me leave the room or to have pushed the door until it clicked honest to god I wish dogs could cry

The Arts

I’m putting brown over brown and green over that said the laughing old woman gesturing brush in hand believe it or not this comes out looking like flesh but really everything depends ultimately on line

I have been told that I am myself a work of art said the dark brown tulip raising her smooth chin and throwing her shoulders slightly back and crossing her legs and looking rapacious

My four basic barks said the dog twitching his ears impatiently can express whatever I need to communicate: a bow-wow indicates happiness a growl warning a woof hunger a whine . . . you know . . . [End Page 19]

The Moment on Stage II

I simply surrendered to life says the old woman   throwing her week’s shopping into the car     I am water over stone I’m a summer breeze       easing through empty buildings after war

I heal this moribund world says the tulip standing tall   I command sunlight to cascade down     I cause worms to cultivate the soil       I sing old jazz and seduce the rainfall

Some days my animal mask slips off   and I begin to howl     uninterruptedly        says the dog

The Beginning of Time



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pp. 17-22
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