Lyn Lifshin

My Neighbor in her Veils

Somewhere when she was a child on long slow
afternoons she licked persimmons,
crumpled saffron in her mother's kitchen
of garlic and plums, her flesh camouflaged
even in the heat, dreaming papaya seeds
sprout in her belly to grow a skin doll.

I think of George Segal in his father's butcher
shop despising the stench, daydreaming
gauze and veils, of wrapping the flesh
chunks dripping blood in white, still as a
nun, quiet as my neighbor mush have
been kneeling on stone, swathed like a

nun in yards of cotton the sculptor could have
dreamed into marble. Now in a new country
far from canaries and blue limes, mocholelos,
in a town where she can't find good cayenne
or fresh tumeric, where people stare at her,
their eyes dark beads she can't see her reflec-

ion in. She brings the car into the garage
on weekends to wash it without her veil but
some late mornings when everyone's gone
from the house she runs barefoot, her hair
streaming down to the river with green pasta
for the geese whose wings flutter around

her, make her feel she is back in her mother's
house beating quilts and pillows, their harsh
cries more soothing than English.


The 2River View, 4_1 (Fall 1999)