| GRANDMOTHER RECONSIDERS HER KNITTING | THE EXHIBITIONIST IN HER BOUDOIR
| THE HABITS OF OLD LADIES
professor at the University of Tel Aviv, Karen Alkalay Gut has
traveled widely and lived in the USA and UK. Among her many books
are a biography: Alone in the Dawn: The Life of Adelaide Crapsey.
[Athens: University of Georgia Press, December 1988.] Some
of her books of poetry are are Making Love: Poems. Tel
Aviv: Achshav, 1980; Butter Sculptures (Hebrew). Tel Aviv:
Ha kibbutz Hameuchad, 1983. Mechitza. New York:
Cross-Cultural Communications, 1986; Ignorant Armies. Tel
Aviv: Tentative Press, 1992; Between Bombardments. Tel
Aviv: Tentative Press, 1992; Love Soup. Tel Aviv: Tentative
Press, 1992; High School Girls. Tel Aviv: Tentative Press,
1992; Recipes. Tel Aviv: Golan, 1994 Harmonies/ Disharmonies.
Etc. Editions, 1994; Ignorant Armies. New York: Cross Cultural
Communications, 1994; I/Thou and Other War Poems (Hebrew).
Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad,1994; Paranormal Poems
(Hebrew) Gvanim, 1997; Life in Israel -November 1995-1996
, Whistle Press, 1997.
That day the doctor said I didn't need birth control any more
the porter carrying the neighbors refrigerator made eyes at me,
and you and I failed in our attempt to make love on the top
of the Y.M.C.A. tower because we were giggling too hard,
and I left a lipstick mark on Amichai's shirt,
wondered what his wife would think when he came home.
I thought, maybe next month at this time I'll be wearing a patch,
or maybe I'll be shaving off a mustache, or maybe
I'll have a belly out to here, big enough to rest my breasts on.
There will be no more children, I never thought there would.
But the chance of dripping nipples will not even be latent,
and I won't play at comparing myself with some beauty queen
and no man will ever love me again for my body alone.
GRANDMOTHER RECONSIDERS HER KNITTING
Protecting a child name
with a voluminous cape
was the first mistake ñ
an anonymous little girl
her face hooded
from human gaze
in the forest
And why red?
Shouldn't I have given her
a briar patch color
the enticing wood
knowing the wolf
to the brightness
of little girls?
And why is she known only
by this garish robe
instead of her kindness
to her ancestor?
I should have had her called
"The one who defied
for the sake of the author
of her camouflage."
EXHIBITIONIST IN HER BOUDOIR
If a tree
falls in a forest
And the blinds
And the men in my life
and the dog
And I fling off
to the tune
of music in my head
to my imagined lovers
they are missing
to know of
who could say
I am not
the genius, the fulfillment
of all a reader dreams
THE HABITS OF OLD LADIES
would lean over the bureau
to paint her pursing lips
she hadn't yet reached seventy.
My mother's voice
whispered to me
that her aunt
But she was so creative, so secure,
the first woman in my life
who wore makeup.
At her aging daughter's wedding
I was five, in my first long dress
(peach silk) and observed
how erect she was
and how she stood studiedly
in three-quarter profile,
Under the fine gray gown she wore
a Charis corset, I knew, because my mother
fitted them, on her knees, pins
between her teeth, while leafed
of before-and-after dowagers,
women who made their image
from their dreams.
But it took fifty years,
when cousin Frieda reminisced
about World War I
and how Rochel made it through
by opening a tea house
for whatever soldiers
had conquered the town that day,
standing in profile
in the doorway
to draw them in,
that I realized her posture
in old age
was still intended
for those noble fighting men.
How did I know when I was three
to be so stirred by her
© 1997 by Karen Alkalay-Gut. All rights reserved.