If the soul has any weight,

is it heavier than light?

And: when does it cross the threshold?—


entering the body—flesh threshold

to that candle-cradle of water & light

that is also a meshed net, weight


that enwraps the soul’s wing-weight

as a chrysalis wraps & seals the gold threshold—

awaiting the shiver—those radiant wings of light—


frail weight, departing to alight at the next threshold.




     within the room of plush plum-

colored chairs which open

     their arms to enfold us—receiving

our bodies’ alarum & thrum

     under sutured hours—


we listen for word, keen to

     the hospital chapel’s bright chime—

its strike a shimmer announcing

     the one or             the other (birth) (death):

one more someone who’s slid

     in or out on oxygen shock, who

reverberates into one or

     the other unknown, the opening

closing behind—

               only consider

the bell’s double ripples

     sprung from the hospital’s heart,

alternative trembles that echo

     outward, charging atoms of air,

entering ear by stunned ear

     to notify each of us draped

weary on love-seats or counting

     blank doors—

          waiting, awaiting—

or pressing the lift button (up,

     down)—consider that single

same chime for passage of

     blood, passage of pearl, ringing

outward through plaster &

     glass, past             snow-sheeted court-

yards all pine & ice, past

     axis & nebula, & so never—

never—reaching an end,

     each atom yielding its one-half

the distance, one-half &

     one-half, sounding note during,

enduring . . .

          meantime we wait,

     tuned to hum inside the summons . . .

meantime we have the arms of

     plum-colored chairs & this room,

        we have             each other

                                                   at St. Charles Hospital




Call me Isadore. Or Dora. My whim,

               or yours—I’m supple as well, yes, a snake.


                 Serpent. Slither. I, both & neither (sex

                or gender). First of that long line:


Hermaphroditus (simultaneous)

                or Teiresias (sequential). Filius


                 & filia at once of Aphrodite, queen

                of love & beauty—& Hermes, quick-


silver thief of cattle. Hearts. Melder

                of silver, all things to all denizens


                 of Eden. So, Dr. Glitter to Eve’s thirst,

                my diamond skin glinting, seductive as


Persephone in her thigh-slit sequined Queen

                gown—nonetheless, it was my glittering mind


                 that drew Eve to temptation, to That Tree

                in the midst of the garden. Knowledge


of good & evil. Etcetera. And so

                she bit, and so she’s sprung forth, mother of


                 blue-stockinged brainy ladies everywhere

                to be. Left behind: that Other Tree. You


frown? In the omphalos of Paradise,

                two trees, two bodies, so: double lusts.


                 Eve notched off my list, now Adam, but

                he’s slow to seize the red rolling fruit:


his eye on the other prize—Tree of Life.

                Watch him pause, apple half-way to his lips.


                 Appetite glancing toward the low-hanging

                fruit of that luscious bush—dusky plum-rose


odor. Okay, I know my job—nudge him

                to the pomme that will make him pomme de terre—


                  trading air for earth & dirt. Then he’ll be

                gone, he’ll in fact be you. I’ll pay in legs


lost, asquirm on belly, but not as bad

                as if I’d let him taste the other fruit. So:


                  I’ll sun my curves in peace—at least until

                they call for Pandora’s box of seed-dreams—


the pomegranate, once again. Again.


Judith H. Montgomery’s poems appear in the Bellingham Review, Cimarron Review, Prairie Schooner, and Cave Wall, among other journals, as well as in a number of anthologies. Her chapbook, Passion, received the 2000 Oregon Book Award for Poetry; Red Jess, a finalist for several national first book prizes, was published by Cherry Grove Collections (2006); Pulse & Constellation (finalist for the Finishing Line Chapbook Poetry Prize, 2007) followed. Her new manuscript, Litany for Bloom and Wound, centers on scarring and healing, particularly in the lives of women.

sandy of judy 4

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