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Let Me Press My Body to the Stone

By Charlotte Friedman

Once, my mother wanted protection, a letter  

from a foreign lover, a coat with sleeves wide  

like wings, and me trundling after, stumbling  

over the gap between us. What matters now?

Its narrowness, how hazy that divide.

She, so slick and hard-edged, my 

iceberg turned dross into, well, not gold

but gave her life a glossy sheen.

Beauty, her guiding star—

if only we were fabulous.

So much made us different, and yet—

I can’t help but wonder, if held up to the light,  

I’d see her fears—of harm, loneliness

lit blue like fire in me, and my dream

to wander, secure in a self, pulsing hot in her.

Call down the angels, quiet the music,

so many trips back and forth, hands folded  

on a tray table, praying and then—

the papery gown the shuffling slippers the oozing  

the closed door.

trailing-off (Jake photo).jpg

About the Author

Charlotte M. Friedman is a writer, poet, translator and teacher who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. She received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and her MSc in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University, where she taught in the English Department for ten years. Her nonfiction book, The Girl Pages, was published by Hyperion, and her poetry in journals such as Connecticut River Review, Intima and Waterwheel Review, which nominated “Alams for Cleaning Out the Painter’s House” for a Pushcart Prize. Her translations of Ch’ol poetry (with Carol Rose Little) have been published in Latin American Literature Today, World Literature Today, Exchanges, North Dakota Quarterly and The Arkansas International.

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