February 2001

Judy Loest


Judy Loest earned her M.A. in English from the University of Tennessee in 1998. Since then she has won several poetry awards including Special Merit in the 2000 League of American Penwomen's Soul-Making Literary Contest and the Vesle Fenstermaker Prize at the 2000 Indiana University Writers' Conference. Her poetry has appeared in Now & Then, and two anthologies: All Around Us: Poems from the Valley and Breathing the Same Air (Celtic Cat Publishers, 2000). She currently lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Georgia    Click to hear in real audio

Even without all those strong women
In the house, a mother and two grandmothers
Who had traveled to Wisconsin in oxcarts,
You would never have stayed
On that dairy farm, sweeping pinecones
Off of the front porch, painting still lifes
Of turnips and aged cheddar. As a young girl,
You stood at the window and saw a great desert
Beyond the corn fields, flowers in the night sky
Instead of stars, the velvet fire of poppies
In the goldfish’s scales. The fixed notions
Of astronomy and arithmetic, the history
Of England and the New World, even
The economics of the Bell Telephone Company
Flew out of your head like prairie sand.

I saw you once in Central Park, or a young woman
Who could have been you back in 1908,
Before Stieglitz, before Ghost Ranch—
Though this was in 1985. Who knows?
You were wearing black, your thin body
Bent in the shape of a microscope,
Reproducing in pastels the back of your hand
Which emerged on the page as a bone-white
Trumpet flower, yellow flames curling
From its center. Sure, it wasn’t you,
But looking at that trumpet flower later
In the museum, I knew why you never wore colors,
Why someone with such a fire inside her
Might keep turning up someplace else.



Judy Loest: Poetry
Copyright � 2000 The Cortland Review Issue 15The Cortland Review