May 1998

Miriam Levine


R.T. Smith

R.T. Smith
  Muffy Bolding
  John Kinsella
  Richard Foerster
  A.F. Moritz
  Miriam Levine
  Louis Armand
  David Shevin
  Stellasue Lee
  Adrian C. Louis
  David Sutherland
  Gregory Djanikian
  Paolo M. Bottigelli

J.M. Spalding
  R.T. Smith

William Heath

Douglas Thornsjo

Miriam Levine (Photo by John Lane) Miriam Levine's most recent book is Devotion: A Memoir. She is the author of three collections of poetry, and A Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Paris Review, and Kenyon Review. She is recepient of a 1998-99, NEA Creative Writing Fellowship. Currently she teaches literature and creative writing at Framingham State College in Massachusetts.
At the Piroska Cafe    Read Along with the Author

—Sipping coffee at the table near the window.
—Music I can't identify.
—A woman writing in a black and gold notebook.
—A man reading.
—Taste of coffee made as I want it.
—Buttery croissant.
Sublunary pleasures I love!

An old woman comes in with a child.
"Nana, let's sit here, there are flowers."
Freesias are in, budded stems opening yellow at the tips.
The child lifts a little green box of Crayolas,
slips out red with an arcing hand and bends
so close her hair drifts on the paper.

A woman leans back and lights a cigarette,
her frizzed-out black hair against the white wall.
The door opens and closes, the sound
of the street fades in and out like the voices around me.
Through the glass a bare linden.

Copying the grandmother's gestures
as if she were looking in a mirror
the child puts on her hat.
The man takes off his glasses and lets the room blur.
The fragile loose-woven day, the patient
order of afternoons, returns and returns.
Surely that linden will open its white porches where I dream,
so why am I grieving?
Why do I write in my notebook,
"Don't take this away!"



Come Back    Read Along with the Author

Come back, water I love, the pour,
the clink of my glass. Hunger—
lights off. Let it come.
Come back, slow blue twilight,
chips of light in the waves.

When winter shuts my mouth,
I have to bend down and feel my hand.
Strange hand, come back to me, come
back heat, breath, burnt lily, lip, smoke,
summer dress, wait! You'll be like skin.



A Day    Read Along with the Author

The Benn's white cat blinked in the sun.
Tomatoes rolled off the vine.
My neighbor Joe called his dog,
Chipper, Chipper, Chip, sit.
There was time to bake huge Idahos.
The paint dried on the back corner of the house.
The Norway spruce held onto its cones.
The weather held its gold.
The asters threw away their seeds.
I did no harm.
I did nothing for anyone.
There were six good books on my night table.
I picked up a novel.
There was a character caught in his bitter half-lived life.
I could listen to him.



Homesick    Read Along with the Author

If I love my blue window so much what am I doing here?
The tiny brick platforms face each other in the rain.
The posts broken, the rails pried out.

A child's chair drips in clover, turned over, the burned velvet.

Where the mower's blade would scrape and stall,
the burn of red poppies against the wall.

Sing to me, sparrow; moan to me, dove.
Crow, stab me home.



Miriam Levine: Poetry
Copyright 1999 The Cortland Review Issue ThreeThe Cortland Review