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Katy Aisenberg: a poem

Self-portrait as Miss Clavel

She wanted someone to know everything about her.

What she dreamed and when she

Woke and whether she really was

A wellspring of words or a nest

Of jostling birds between her heart and head.

Why men love fishing trips, a

Dead silver trout high above their heads, or why the place that

Used to be the place we went

When the other place wasn't

Open also isn't open anymore.

And why it was so hard to

Be the mother all the time,

To be the sun, hang the moon

And place the stars one by one

Then point them out every night to confirm

That nothing ever changes.

Margaret needed

New men and children to love.

Her books lined up like friends didn't talk back.

She needed an orphanage full of them sleeping under the

Blue shades of Canton lamps,

Girls with tangled shining hair and messy boys

Sleeping with their fisted hands

Curled around an orange truck.

When they were all tucked in

She was up writing her log.

Amputations. Scabies.

Liver pills and orange juice.

The light on her words was radiant.

Pages turned with the breath of her sleeping household.

"Lucky. Fortunate. The End."

Katy Aisenberg's poems have appeared variously in Partisan Review, Ploughshares, and, during 2022, in ONE ART and NEOLOGISM. In 2020, she was awarded the James Hearst prize for her poem "The Invention of Ether", which appeared in the North American Review. She works as a clinical psychologist in Cambridge MA.

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