Answers to the Name “lucky“
Published: Mar. 2015
Within: Delphi Series Vol. 2
“Joy Ladin continues to lead the trans poetry revolution with a wisdom that employs humor without cynicism, intelligence without obfuscation, and risk without recklessness. How we need her new work – loving the world even as it refuses stability, holding the pain of loss in such a light grip.”–TC Tolbert
Joy Ladin, Gottesman Professor of English at Yeshiva University, has published seven books of poetry, including Coming to Life, given a Forward Fives award as one of the most important Jewish books of poetry published in 2010, Lambda Literary Award finalist Transmigration, Psalms, The Book of Anna (a verse novel in the voice of a Jewish concentration camp survivor), and newly-published Impersonation. Her memoir, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, was a 2012 National Jewish Book Award finalist and won a Forward Fives award. Her poems and essays have appeared in many periodicals, including American Poetry Review, Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and Parnassus: Poetry in Review.
My therapist says I’m afraid of vanishing.
Last week his ceiling caved in, ending our session
in a shower of words and water.
I’m serious. I’m always serious
when I talk about therapists and cave-ins.
This morning I’m serious in a train
sliding past a clock-tower constructed
when this city thought it was flourishing. Flourishing
is a form of vanishing, a verb embedded in what comes after.
Once there was a city that flourished, its spires confident and secure
as my therapist’s ceiling. Once there was a train
that pulled out of a once-flourishing city.
One morning I was on that train, speeding between woods and river,
between plots in a cemetery, through a village of wooden houses,
too fast to become part of local history.
Vines in the surrounding forest
flourished on trunks they were slowly toppling.
Vanishing was fun, like a sky skydiving.
I was the sky into which I dove.
I brooded above the little wooden town
and postage-stamp cemetery.
Time said, “Welcome to the fountain.”
History said, “You’re already forgotten.”
Wind-scalloped river, algae-covered pond, fronds of goldenrod,
a patch of reeds and then a factory parking lot, cars and men
moving slowly, lit by Sunday morning.
The train slowed to a stop, waiting to claim the single track ahead.
I will tell my therapist, when we meet again
beneath his brand-new ceiling,
“Once I was sitting on a train,
stopped dead and already gone.