“Self-Pity” by Cecilia Woloch

Cecilia Woloch


So few birds I know by name—
bluejay, cardinal, sparrow, crow,
pigeon and pigeon and pigeon again.
This morning I woke to the thump
of soft breast, frantic wings against glass—
female robin, I thought, confused,
mistaking her own reflection
for some other, enemy bird;
launching herself from the limb
of the dying tree outside my window
toward the ghost limb—there; not there.

My sister calls all birds suicidal.
Our mother sits in her big green chair,
too weary, even, to talk on the phone.
All afternoon it’s rained and rained—
all the damp world weeping, so I’ve thought.
Self-pity stinks, my mother says
and says, You should see me naked now.
Her body a map of the broken world
through which I slipped, and my sister, once.

Well, I would eat ash if I thought
it could bring back the dead,
or my own youth, or anyone’s.
Nothing gets done around here, we complain,
but I’ve learned a few trees by heart:
Here is my sycamore, Mother, Sister,
here is the branch I have loved like an arm.

from Rattle #52, Summer 2016
Tribute to Angelenos


Cecilia Woloch: “I’m a poet, writer, teacher, and traveler, based in Los Angeles but happiest living out of a suitcase. I’ve crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border on foot in the company of smugglers, been robbed by a Russian gang in Warsaw and rescued by off-duty police in Paris. I write poetry because I keep falling in love with language and prose because there are so many stories that haven’t been told. I can build a fire in a woodstove, bathe in a bucket, apply lipstick in a rearview mirror, cut my hair with a kitchen knife, drive a stick shift and pick a lock—these are skills I consider essential, along with good grammar and knowing how to fake it until you’ve learned the steps of the dance.” (web)

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