Born in 1939 in The Bronx (New York City), Marian Kaplun Shapiro received her B.A. in English (writing) from Queens College, and her Masters and Doctorate from Harvard. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, where she practices as a psychologist and poet. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, and a Jewish Quaker. In addition to her poetry, which has appeared in various literary magazines, she is the author of a full-length book of poetry, Players In The Dream, Dreamers In The Play (Plain View Press, 2007); two chapbooks, Your Third Wish (Finishing Line Press, 2007) and The End Of The World, Announced On Wednesday (Pudding House Press, 2007); a professional book, Second Childhood (Norton, 1989), a chapter in What Is Psychotherapy? (Jossey-Bass, 1990), and in Play (Wiley, 2002).
Apple! He tastes the syllables
again, hearing red, green,
smelling sweet with sweet white juice.
Wordless, his one-year-old fingers
punctuate the air, towards
the refrigerator. Hah!
(There! In there!)
Wanderers in the Museum of
Antiquities we find ourselves attended
by the ancient Buddhas of Tibet,
by way of China. Gazing down they watch
kindly over us, the unenlightened.
We are tutored by the bodhisattvas,
humble heroes whose names we can't pronounce.
Gladly they waited here on earth, postponing
Nirvana for the sake of those who needed
them. For us. Patience beyond patience.
Blessing beyond blessing. Names beyond names.
In the beginning was the Word
And the Word,
infinite unspoken unspeakable
just out of reach
like fog at sunrise.
who are you
God, Jehovah, Supreme Being, Almighty, Everlasting, Eternal, King of Kings, Creator, Yahveh, Adonai, Allah, Buddha, the Atman, Brahma, Goddess. The Spirit. The Light. The Nameless One.
I am that I am,
wearing a necklace of old Greek
coins, silver full moons
against a dark blouse sky. My newest
grandson, five months into life,
leans into his future, fingers
already expert at the grab. Ah
GAH! he shouts. (I want it!) '
LA TOURISTE SANS SOUCI
Nightmares do not follow me today.
My pocketbook has not been stolen, nor
is it lost. Somehow it's safely stowed,
and I can stride or even skip, my way
down la petite Rue D'Amelie, swinging
my arms. O dear freedom! O chère liberté!
Elevators stay their course, clean
bathrooms appear as needed, and beaucoup
gendarmes smile at me and tip their caps.
I've lost my carte and phrasebook, c'est vrai,
but strangers speak English, falling into step,
taking my arm, pointing out their favorite
sights. My high school French buys me une pomme
with some loose coins that show up in my pocket.
De l'eau? I am directed to a nearby
Now it's time to meet my lover à
l'Hôtel Les Jardins d'Eiffel. He
has not forgotten. He has not died.
He is waiting for me, out front
on the hotel steps, waving, waving
and holding out his arms. I don't need flowers.
I don't need chocolate, I don't need coffee,
or even sunlight in my world. Je n'ai pas
besoin des fleurs. Je n'ai pas besoin
du chocolate. Je n'ai pas besoin
le café, ou même la lumière
du soleil dans mon monde.
APRIL IN PARIS: SUR LE METRO
I'm on the train with you again. But now a slim
young man has taken your place in front of me,
swaying gracefully, one hand on pole, i-pod in
pocket, ear-bud in ear. The accordion-player croons
songs in languages I don't know well enough to
translate, juggling his paper coffee cup of euros,
sashaying deftly to the next car, without falling.
Amore. Amour. Amor. These words I know.
Where did you go? When did you get off? Surely
you didn't mean to leave me on the jump seat réservé
for les handicapés! I make my way, pocketbook and
plastic bag in hand - Evian, apple, pocket dictionaire -
to the possibilité of renversement. Where am I now?
Je ne sais pas. And you? Perhaps en route to
our petit pension. S'il vous plaît, Madame, où est
la direction Balard, à fin de la ligne violet?
In the correspondence I recognize the homeless
woman curled around her blanket, her head
bolstered by floral rags. The fruit and flower stand is
busy with bananas, dates, and strawberries. Lilies
flirt with tulips, their stems drinking together in
tall tin water cans. Bits of trash, like sparrows,
congregate near overflowing bins. People hurry,
vite, vite, a flash of rouge toenails, scalpel-sharp
high heels in step with traductions of beige
Birkenstocks. And there's the harp we heard
this very morning, accompanied by amplified CD,
sailing Bach's Praeludium on the absent ocean.
Overhead, each note a silvery balloon, Gounod's
Ave Maria floats through my memory's life sky,
always the perfect lover, the perfect marriage,
the anniversaire of the uncounted and uncountable.
Wake me up now! Let me find you at the next
platform. Let me find you studying your subway
map, planning another afternoon at some musée
we haven't seen. Let me find you, just across
the track, waiting for me.
© 2007 Marian Shapiro