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    painted colorful shapes

    Two Poems

    By Rachel Hadas

    February 12, 2021
    • Ann Gorewitz

      Beautiful poems and so timely. Thank you.

    Trying to Get to School

    Dream: halfway to my destination
    I remembered something I’d forgotten
    and turned around so I could get
    it back before it was too late.

    But making my way from A to B
    could not be managed easily.
    Locked courtyard, blocked alleys, a high wall –
    I had to cross or climb them all.

    I tried and tried without success.
    Wherever I turned: NO ACCESS,
    no way to reach the subway station
    and get from there to my destination

    across the river and into a room
    I’d open the door to (what was Zoom?),
    Enter, talk, listen, and engage
    with my students, forgetting age,

    and tell them, before time ran out,
    what reading and writing were about.
    Gathered together in one place,
    to talk and listen, face to face:

    this, my dream was telling me,
    was something that could no longer be.
    Henceforth it wouldn’t be allowed
    to be part of any crowd.

    Locked courtyards and blocked alleyways,
    our isolated nights and days,
    no hands held up or questions asked,
    the eager faces muffled, masked,

    all siloed in our separate spaces,
    and interposed between us: stasis.
    I knew already there was no
    way to get where I had to go.

    The dream I dreamed six months ago:
    Prophetic, but no longer true.
    Now crowds have gathered – still masked, yes,
    but shouting against voicelessness.

    The streets are full, the atmosphere
    ardent, infectious. Where is fear?
    Forgotten in the hope and flow.
    Justice is a pandemic too.

    colorful houses on a street

    Aniko Hencz, Steep Street, acrylic on canvas Used by permission.

    Lyric Leap

    The fizzing spark, the lateral leap,
    the sideways skitter (mind the gap!),
    fugitive dream recalled mid-morning,
    déjà vu pouncing without warning,
    unexpected recollection,
    serendipitous digression
    meandering at an angle – pun
    that stops you before you’ve begun,
    tattered palimpsest, hapax,
    puzzle that stymies you in your tracks,
    lacuna, hiatus, sidebar,
    sudden swerve, and you are far
    along already toward surprise.
    Pause a second and surmise.
    Your destination was – where?
    One sideways step may get you there,
    your wings still crumpled, half asleep –
    one unassuming lyric leap.

    Contributed By

    Rachel Hadas studied classics at Harvard, poetry at Johns Hopkins, and comparative literature at Princeton. Since 1981 she has taught in the English Department at Rutgers University, and has also taught courses in literature and writing at Columbia and Princeton. She is the author of many books of poetry, prose, and translations, including Poems for Camilla (Measure Press, 2018).

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