Beth Lifson


Fire #1

You thought you knew
the old stories of something stolen;
it never occurred to you
it was something so small.
A spark, that’s it.
Something small and stolen
and significant
of much more than itself.
You wonder
if those in the building
know; you wonder
about his skin but never
think to touch it
hardened and lined
like the veins in your own arms.
You hope you never
touch what was stolen,
or that it never touches you.
You never think
to stop looking
at the stories
that engulf
the significant.
You fear looking out a dark window.
You are only a girl.

Fire #3

You waited until it was too late, again.
You waited to hear quiet, asking yourself
how one could hear what makes no sound.
Silence trapped in a row boat is not silence
at all. The weight of a tangerine feels heavy.
Too late to ask where to go, too quiet to hear the answer:
Don’t go, Don’t go, Don’t go, Don’t go.

Wedding Poem

I dreamt a wedding silky as a night
at the opera. The groom, an old lover
who had found someone else long ago.
I left to write a poem in abundant simile

a poem that held regret in its small hand
like a pearl, lifted from drapes and
placed firmly at the gates of vocabulary
beautiful on the page of the dream.

I woke relieved to find my husband beside me
the satin of ceremony replaced by flannel
and the quiet of my real and beautiful life
on my lips, but not the poem of the dream.

That poem was lost in darkness like love
left, never to be found again with precision
but discovered again in each new day,
a poem lost so this one could be found.

Beth Lifson received her MA and MFA in Poetics from New College of California. Her poetry has been published in the journals Paragraph, Shampoo, and Crosscurrents, and is forthcoming in the Arabesques Literary Review. She is an adjunct instructor at Clark College in Vancouver, WA and at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, CA.