Lynn Strongin

Tiger, you caught me by the tail

Now things pale

In the telling.

The storyline, its Kokab shaky as a one-year old;

But it is my only way of doing things

A skipping boat calmly, right hand steady on the tiller

Thoughts in agitation.

I am close to you but I peer out at the vast dark sea

Pointing with my index finger

At total fear.

The Rubicon. The faraway.

Do you hear my footfall?

It comes from before our sorrowing days.

Across the hallways and valleys the voice carries

That holds the jug of mercies, betrayals promises

Up to the brim:

Water reflective always.

And now she gives me a clue that she loves me

& all’s calm:

Alabama reflected in water,

The pillowslips ironed.

Only the sudden bolt of lightning

In the darkening southern night is frightening

As bleakness suddenly without sound brightening.

Standing at the ironing board

Or sitting in the rocking chair her tallness overwhelms me

Like Eleanor Roosevelt.

But her teeth are even although with a gap.

O rocking horse love we are given too short a time to love

Although it be a gumdrop a clothesline length

Too snapped in half

Although it be a lifeline.

Lynn Strongin, born in 1939 in New York City into a middle-class Jewish family, contracted polio at age 12. She attended the Manhattan School of Music, Hunter College, and Stanford University, where she earned a Master of Arts in literature. In the 1960s, she lived in politically active Berkeley, collaborating with Denise Levertov, who described her as a “true poet.” Stongin has published more than a dozen books and her work appears in 30 anthologies. She has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, American Association of University Women, and PEN American Center. Countrywoman/Surgeon was nominated for the Elliston Award in 1979 and Spectral Freedom for a Pulitzer Prize in 2009. In 2015, Headmistress Press published her poetry collection, The Burn Poems, which Alicia Ostriker called “fascinating work.”