The Poetry Project


Jennie Goldfarb

I stopped to take a picture of flowers in a vase shaped as a swan next to a street light. I stopped to remind myself to see, to hear, to stop to see and hear. I’ve been fighting with myself for 150 years and it’s getting kind of annoying. Something bit me and I’ve just scratched enough…one more scratch and the top layer of skin will come off and it will bleed and then I’ll have to go the bathroom to get some toilet paper or I’ll just cover it with my sleeve but then I’ll feel like I need to wash this shirt before I wear it again and I don’t have time to do that this week, or ever, it feels like. I guess the scratching is about time.When will it stop being itchy? When will I have time to do laundry? Why don’t I live somewhere with a clothes line? How long will it take me to get home? How many hours of sleep will I get? When will I be the version of myself that squares up with the version of myself I thought I’d be? And so on. In the meantime, I’m filling my life with half-meaning. That’s mostly not true. Right? Today had so much meaning. Incomplete meaning is just thinking other people are wrong more than your wrong. It’s being lazy, is it being lazy?

I’m still counting
Counting my otherness or yours
Counting thumps
Counting 1, 3 and 7
Counting incomplete acceptance.
Counting the smell of your hand

Through a thinly sliced apple, I can see outlines of heads and shoulders on the computer scene.
I ate a seed on purpose.
I can see more than you think through a thin apple slice.
I can see that time we got into a fight shoveling snow.
And that time you cooked split pea soap after I just threw up split pea soup.
That time you didn’t come home.

See I’m counting again.
My half brother asked me on the phone why our dad never made it.
What do you mean, I asked?
He loved working, he was always working, he was a good salesman, a nice guy, he said.
Not everyone who works hard gets rich, I guess, I said.
I asked my mom what she thought. She said he didn’t have the acumen. I don’t know what she meant.
I don’t know anyone who got rich on their own and don’t know what on your own means.
I’d email my dad pictures and he would print them out and scotch tape them around his apartment.

Today is your birthday and I buried a letter to you next to your grave.

Work from The Circle Room: the presence of touch in the five stages of life with Georgia Wall, The Ceremonialist