Issue 35, Final Fringe


by Joy Ladin Issue 19 07.27.2009

All text taken from Cosmo Girl, December 2006 / January 2007, pp. 158-60

You discover them every day,

Leaning toward you, trying not to laugh. As guilty
Of the truth you never told
As of the truth you share, your face

Is huge with secrets
You pretend to avoid
On your way to your next class, next dinner, next

Amazingly mortifying sweater. Even your sweaters
Smell of secrets: fire
Stuffed in a drawer, music charred

By prayers you thought were yours, happiness
Burning in books
Hurled across the room, a hideous

Mix of emotions
That leaves burst marks on your kids.
You think you are passing

As a normal person,
Being silly, talking on the phone, giving
The gift of pain

To the family that needs you,
That makes you feel
Broken and elegant,

Like a cherry on a sword.
Your friends see you
As completely lost, a menorah of need and love

Laughing hysterically
At the top of the stairs.
You glance back. You want to pretend

To be a total person, a model
Of truth, an amazing parent,
But you are falling

Into the crack
In the charred foundation
You thought was happiness.

The secrets you chose
Never to reveal
Spill across the landscape

Of the love
You thought you would never give,
Laughing like dolphins

Stuffed in a drawer
Inviting you to swim.

Joy Ladin

Joy Ladin

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Joy Ladin, Gottesman Professor of English at Yeshiva University, is the author of six books of poetry: last year’s The Definition of Joy, Forward Fives award winner Coming to Life, Lambda Literary Award finalist Transmigration, Alternatives to History, The Book of Anna, and Psalms. Her memoir, Through the Door of Life:  A Jewish Journey Between Genders, was a finalist for a 2012 National Jewish Book Award, and a Forward Fives winner. She is also the author of a book-length study of American poetry, Soldering the Abyss:  Emily Dickinson and Modern American Poetry (VDM Publishing). Her work has appeared in many periodicals, including American Poetry Review, Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Southwest Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and North American Review, and has been recognized with a Fulbright Scholarship.