Lynn Strongin


In "Northern Widow" I pictured a mother whose husband (soldier) has been killed, rocking her babe in her arms. She sees the amputees, feels the scalding sun and grieves war. I imagined myself as that widow with a young child, touching the mayhem and ruin of war. Although Northern, she grieves South's loss. She pictures the Southern "Tall Moll" and speaks the words which indicate that show that even the North is still requiem although they won. Is any war ever won? "At the foot of your bedstead" is the chart. I become the child in hospital bed, the girl who is lowered into the bath by chains. This is not totally persona, since I was that child, inside the very frame (body) after I had polio. I am the girl to whom I now speak. It is "At the foot of MY bedstead," I turn into an address to the child I was back in 1951.




Northern Widow


Rocking my babe in my arms:     Tall Moll with a patch in each cheek
cool as pain
blue eyes, locks of hair blown forward.

Down South a honeysuckle wind
rifts corn
golden as whiskey
burns over glass
leaves trace
of smoke
a blood-wind.

Benighted South has given us hickory children;    Whittled from Kentucky
mountain ash
dot of indigo eyes riveted:     Peering round the chair
where a
Confederate flag is painted, hung on wood stiff behind.

North (despite Victory) is requiem.
                               Crematory ash in boxes: men, women children:.
              Losers & widows we are all even the children
              tears falling like pitchpine
                               heat ablaze of propane:
                               under northern moon
                               or amputees under a scalding southern sun.


At foot of your iron bedstead, your chart:


fate & fortune
health & running as far away as the moon.

Peaks & valleys are deep cut as those Jesus walked on
& sea red as the water Moses parted.
Sky seamless
as tulip-red brick chimneys in a dream-city
from time to time.

The marble faun
in our brown hallway               floats away
on its mahogany
Soldier’s Pay
Quarry              &              Quarantine:

No child of the ward could be bathed without being lowered on chains a skylight with grid letting a soapy light in.
A company we formed.
Those few ambulatory ones came back form the nurse’s station with paydirt:
we waited in our cots
we dreamt without sleep                in our high
renaissance of passionate curiosity & a an adolescent thirst which was ordinary.



435569-1589589-thumbnail.jpgLynn Strongin was born (1939) NYC and raised both there and in the South where her father was stationed as an Army Psychologist. Early studies in musical composition led to writing poetry. She worked for Denise Levertov in the politically vibrant Berkeley of the Sixties. Her poems appear in over thirty anthologies and seventy journals, among them Poetry, The American Voice, Southern Humanities Review, New Works Review, Tryst, and Antigonish Review.