Watching Sharon Olds with Lucille Clifton

She offered a long, slender arm, and linked

they walked like that along Duval Street,

a clot forming on the sidewalk behind them.

The march to the San Carlos was slow.

Then, one by one, we dropped into the worn,

velvet seats. After the lights were dimmed,

spotlights fixed on the mouths of poets, their

strange sounds wending their way to our ears.

Key West in January is the poet’s Lourdes,

cure for what ails you.

Once it rained at lunchtime, so we huddled

under a canope and lifted our wine glasses

to toast the rain. Patience grows while

waiting in line for the loo.

Since Lucille loved her sons even when wayward,

I try to love mine better.

Most trials I have lived through with Sharon:

early trauma, sexual discovery, marriage,

children, depression, the failures of love,

sick and dying friends. But I loved her most

on Duvall Street, her dark head

bent, her shoulders hunched

to diminish her height,

so she could murmur into Lucille’s hair.

Dear Sharon, sometimes it is as if

my tears are waiting

for you to break the dam of my grief

so I can begin to heal from some old wound.

Mary Junge lives and writes in Minnesota. She has studied poetry and memoir with numerous instructors from the Loft, a center for writing in Minneapolis (Roseann Lloyd, Deborah Keenan, Margaret Hasse and Thomas Smith for poetry; Cheri Register for nonfiction), the Iowa Summer Writing Festival (Jane Mead), Hamline University (Rebecca McClanahan), Key West Literary Seminar (Jane Hirshfield and Rowan Ricardo Phillips), and Madeline Island School of the Arts (Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew). She holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota. Junge's poems have appeared in ArtWord Quarterly, Avocet, 100 Words, The Wolf Head Quarterly, National Poetry Winners of the Chester H. Jones Foundation Competition, Loonfeather, Minnesota Poetry Calendars, Sidewalks, SoulSpeak, and Water~Stone, among others. Her poetry chapbook, Express Train, was published by Pudding House Publications, and her poetry has been anthologized in Hunger Enough: Living Spiritually in a Consumer Society, edited by Nita Penfold, as well as in anthologies published by Laurel Poetry Collective, including The Quiet Eye: Thriteen Ways of Looking at Nature and Body of Evidence. Her full-length collection of poetry, Pilgrim Eye, was also published by Laurel.

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