Tuesday Apr 23

Moldawcarol creditGabrielleMarks Carol Moldaw is the author of Beauty Refracted (Four Way Books, 2018), as well as five other books of poetry, including The Lightning Field, and a novel, The Widening. Her work has most recently appeared in The New York Review of Books, Poem-A-Day, Subtropics, Zocalo Public Square and The Los Angeles Review. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Making a Case
‘You have a gift, use it,’
my first mother-in-law said
a long time ago, whereas
last week my own mother,
citing my love of words
and alluding to my decades-
past year of law school,
said, ‘You would have been
a great prosecutor.’ ‘No,’
I countered, as riled as when
my future was still at stake.
‘I would have been a drunk.
Measuring syllables
keeps me on my feet.’
—And, arguing with her,                               
all but prove her point.

Anytime we were caught
having trouble, “really
it’s nothing,” we were taught
to say, as if undeterred.
Only later did I learn
to imply and infer and,
later, to state outright.
Even now, to admit feeling

bothered can cause shame
and I want to deny it or,
at least, to hide it. It’s then
I’ll do anything to avoid
writing and shun speech,
tacitly denying meaning
to feeling, as if what goes
unremarked can redeem.
My argument with myself
is the same as my argument
with the world: the same
disgust, misapprehension,
disappointment, disbelief.
To parse it out, as now,
I practice inflecting a new
tense, the present imperfect.

Photo credit: Gabrielle Marks