h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s






My friend, Wendy, no,
she’s not anyone you might
have heard of, at least not
a famous poet whose name
I drop all the time (I would
never stoop to such a blatant
expression of insecurity, constantly
projecting through my writing
and art that I run with the right crowd,
all of us desperate for attention,
all of us trying to close off access
to our inner circle)…Wendy says
the trick to moving forward is not
to look back.




Now that we have established
who she’s not, what I really
meant to paraphrase was
her assertion that you, we, one
must not expect to reclaim
a happy past that sits beyond
redemption there over my right
shoulder.  Wendy’s not
an apologist either.  Charge
ahead, she says, with back numbing
syringes that ease the pain
toward an improved
prognosis.  We can’t say we
know for sure what we will
reproduce.  Our systems
falter, our peccadilloes loom
large, our enemies flout
their phonic dominance from
the tops of this megalopolis
built on macadam and market
appeal.  Can you recognize
my wrinkled face peering down
at you from the parapet?
I hope so.  I’ve just been
crowned the crone queen.





When Wendy and I find ten minutes
to write a poem, we do, because we
both know all too well that life
is short when it comes to responding
to cues from the universe.  We felt
a rhythm under the pads of our
fingertips on top of the page.
We could have checked on the laundry
or called our accountant, but instead
we bit off more than we can chew,
graphite, ink, erasers, not to mention
lactating and perimenopause and
everything in between.  How do
we account for all of this?  We can
pause and look back but we can’t
really remember what it was like and
tomorrow’s demanding in its own way,
even to someone in their fifties, a woman
no less, who has raised a few children.
(When will we be done with that?) Not
yet, we surmise, our own mothers
in their 80s, asking us to get their wool
sweaters from the plastic box under the bed
because they can’t get down there themselves.
We bend over. We straighten up. We howl.





Wendy is not the person to call
when you are considering
whether or not to put your dog
down.  She adores her Havanese
Belle and thinks dogs are a central
component to any effort to achieve
domestic bliss.  But our twelve-year-old
Labradoodle Bert has two incurable tumors
and a urinary tract infection. God, he’s
a handsome dog, and fit for his years.
But he strains and strains every time
he goes number two which he’s
trying to do with increasing frequency.
He’s lying on the floor next to me in the sun
quite contentedly now, but we wonder
every morning when we wake up if he
will wake up. Our son lies down on the floor
next to his best friend and I take a picture
of this time of our lives coming to an end.




If you don’t mind, I would
like to invite Wendy into the
conversation one more time
mostly since we appear to be
sitting on a fulcrum between
the before and the after and I
don’t want to be accused of
kvetching all by my lonesome.
Wendy’s moniker is a mono-
chromatic needlepoint crest
symptomatic of an only
child who is unknowingly linked
genetically to my anthems.
She takes one stitch at a time
and calibrates the threat of
tomorrow next to today’s
disappointment.  You’ll find
the difference incremental,
but the pigments she chooses
to depict the morning light
in late May…these are unsurpassed.
So we sit in our comfy chair
and ransom ourselves to the future.




BIO: Sally Van Doren is the author of the poetry collections Sex at Noon Taxes, Possessive and the forthcoming Promise.  She teaches at the 92nd Street Y in New York City and is a curator for the St. Louis Poetry Center. www.sallyvandoren.com.


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