Four Poems by Geri Rosenzweig






























































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You've finished the apprenticeship.
The animals are quiet in their wooden cages.
The elephant sways in the light sleep of her chains.
The bats were always beyond you.
As were galaxies of flies.
An orange moon swings through the trees.
The baboon brushes his yellow hair.
There is nothing to pack.
The whip and chair belong to the firm.
You're wearing the thin dress you arrived in.
As on the first day, the hut is clean, empty.
All you need do is sit down in the scented night
And on a scrap of paper write the following:
I expect to leave this place tomorrow morning,
If the roads are good
I should be home in three days.


Having turned away as one turns from a mirror,
I went home to Ireland when she died.

Leaning over the country of her body, I recited the kaddish
of a silver backed brush sliding

through her hair the morning I ran off for good.
From the back of my skull I took down the oval mirror

I've carried for years, to see once more her eyes,
green as the sea green bowl she kept her pins in,

how they saw through me
and the pack of lies I handed her,

"I'm staying over at a friend's house for a few days",
before the kitchen door clicked shut between us

and I walked carefully down the hall,
a ticket to New York holding its breath in my pocket.


It's no distance, all we need is the boat,
a summer afternoon with wind in the trees,
the river's muscular current to swing us around
the shore where it spreads out on the lake like an apron.
Father will be there, kneeling over a ring
of scorched rocks, blowing life
into paper and twigs beneath a blackened kettle.
Mother too, in her belted bathing suit, her brown sandals,
setting up the picnic things, lowering bottles
of lemonade into the sandy bottom of a spring,
pining down the white cloth with stones at the corners.
I should be there, in my seventh year, practicing
the art of skimming stones across water.
We'll anchor the boat in shallows
until evening comes and they sprinkle
damp earth on the live coals,
gather the crumbs of what is left
as a few stars float into the west
and a bittern booms from the opposite shore.
It's no distance.
Bring a sweater, it gets cool on the river.


O singing distance, lifting the clouds
so I can see clearly the iridescent hill,
traveling as I am without the wisdom
of the owl on my shoulder, one foot
in front of the other and the little song
of my shoes stuttering in the gravel.

Blue noun of my life,
you are the way I go in morning
wind that erases the lines on maps
stitched with faint threads of salt,
in afternoon light making and unmaking
my shadow in the grassy margins.



In cool noon light, on the edge of spring,
the osprey moves out along the river.

Masked owner of the air, she lifts the fish,
bears it like a rag trembling through wind that shakes

the bony trellis of trumpet vine in the garden.
The moon, full of daylight, is transparent with hunger.

Tops of trees bush and feather as though
small birds throw off the dark.

What was I doing before my heart opened
like a wrinkled blouse lifted from a drawer;

was I putting away the dark gloves of my life,
stripped down and examining the cracked

buttons of faith, was I becoming food for whatever
adjusted its wing and swooped?


("Osprey" won the BBC First Prize Award: it first appeared in BBC Wildlife August 2000)

GERI ROSENZWEIG won the First Prize BBC (British Broadcasting Company) Wildlife Poetry Competition for her poem,  "Osprey".  It will appear in the print issue of Wildlife Magazine in August, and on the Web,, mid-August 2000.

Geri Rosenzweig was born and raised in Ireland.  She worked as an RN in Ireland and London before coming to New York. Her poems have been published in such journals as VERSE, THE NEBRASKA REVIEW, GREENSBORO REVIEW, ANNALS OF INTERNAL MEDICINE, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, POET LORE, THREE CANDLES, CONFRONTATION, and elsewhere.  Her First bookof poems, (click title) Under The Jasmine Moon, was published by HMS Press, London, Ontario, Canada.  Her chapbook of poems, (click title) Half The Story, was published by March Street Press, North Carolina. She has completed two poetry residencies at Warren Wilson College.  Geri Rosenzweig is also a member of the Hudson Valley Writer's Center, where she has taught poetry workshops.

Click here to read Geri Rosenzweig's essay, The Music of What Happens

Read more of Geri Rosenzweig's poety at