Wednesday Sep 20

MnookinWendy Wendy Mnookin lives in Newton, Massachusetts.  Her most recent book is The Moon Makes Its Own Plea (BOA Editions, 2008).   Her other books are What He Took, To Get Here and Guenever Speaks. Her works have been published in such journals as Harvard Review, Prairie Schooner, Pool, and Rhino, as well as in anthologies, including Boomer Girls: Poems by Women from the Baby Boom Generation and Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge: Poems about Marriage. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, Mnookin teaches poetry at Emerson College and at Grub Street, a non-profit writing program in Boston.  Wendy Mnookin's websiteGrub Street, "where Boston gets writing":
---------
 
 


Sundays at Central Park
 
 
1.
The man selling chestnuts
packs them, steaming, into paper bags.
We can't buy any—
you never know
how many hands have touched these chestnuts.
Grandpa's a doctor. Ask him anything
 
about germs. Ask him
to push you on the swing
but he can't, it's too hard with his cane.
 
Soon I'll know how to pump on the swing.
I'll have my own skate key,
jump all the way to
G my name is Gina
and I live in Georgia.
 
 
2.
There's pollen in the air,
and the heavy scent of peonies.
A child reaches toward a flyaway balloon.
 
The man bends to the child,
leaning on his cane,
whispers something into her neck.
Prospects for benches are good.
Benches, and maybe a story.
 
Ah, brass plaques—
With Devotion, In Memory, You Are Missed.
Prospects for benches are ambiguous.
 
Rain arrives,
the summery kind, without much to it.
Rain arrives, rain departs, sky
promises itself and doesn't renege.
 
Peonies stumble.
The balloon will not be consoled.
 
 
 
Midsummer Opera
 
 
i.
In the middle of the night, the heart's
beating is too loud. It's lonely
lying here next to you, listening.
Bon Appetit!
sang Julia Child at the Midsummer Opera.
We smiled and ate cupcakes.
The scrim of sugar coating our tongues
made promises. Still and all
it's beating, and it's loud.
 
 
ii.
On my hands and knees
I'm working my way
up the grandfather clock, trying
to get a grip on those tricky surfaces
before the chimes start in.
I keep falling back.
The flat white face couldn't care less.
Hello! I call, too heartily.
Way too heartily.
 
 
iii.
4:30, and you leave to catch a plane.
Shhh. It's enough
the birds are already busy
issuing their usual announcements.
I bury my head under a pillow
and curl onto my side of the bed.
I wake to find myself
stretched across space,
arms flung greedily.
 
 
iv.
The nurses hovered
over my mother. She was going
to get better. They promised. Again
I ran down the hospital hall,
and again, back,
tagging the wall at either end.
Busy, busy: footsteps
down the corridor
kept my mother breathing.
 
 
v.
Am I too old to be fed,
spoonful by spoonful,
tomato soup from a blue-rimmed cup?
Curtains move in the breeze. Fine.
But the cup in my hand—
I cannot hold it still.
I cannot hold it still enough.
Even my breathing
startles blue intensity.
 
 
vi.
There is so little left
and still the ants have found
an edge of fallen apple.
My work lies untouched, hazy
in the middle distance. Outside,
the startling red of a cardinal
assaults newly green leaves.
Windows long
for an ending, lyric, closed.
 
 
vii.
We lay on our backs
and watched for shooting stars.
It was dizzying—
not the raft, the lake quiet at night,
still and dark. But the expanse
of night domed around us.
I gripped the wooden slats, disoriented.
And then bereft—
if I blinked, I missed them.