so well it’s like you’re my real
lover, the reason I can’t stay
attached to anyone, making a heaven
out of beginning again & you
knock at my voice
as if I could speak you back in
as mine & I had time enough to learn
the secret of cruelty
as if that made it lose
its power over me, its antics
failing notice,

but it lives in us all like a question
we can’t answer but keep trying
because it feels good to & the secret
is it can’t last, 
& that is when it hurts—
who can’t bear to lose &
stitch to any nothing
that acts like a landing place but turns
out to be a fissure, we pretend
voices tell us it’s music
& familiar or alien
we listen, it’s only a dance

Copyright © 2017 by Khadijah Queen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 8, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Federal style, two small chips
in the gilt frame, found at a flea market
in the Eisenhower ’50s.

19th century American lovingly refinished,
loving gift of my mother:
It’s too good for you, so take care of it!

Some winter mornings here
the taut lit face of Ethel Rosenberg, 
or the ecstatic face of Blake,

punim of my 6-year-old grandmother,
arriving stunned and mute from Vilna,
her big sister Lena waiting,

who knew what was at stake.

Oh my fierce mother, sanding away
at the kitchen table protected by newspapers,
The Herald, The Forward, The Traveler,

her little brush, her jar of paste
preserving and inventing the past—
for what?

For me.

For today, half-conscious glimpse of myself
on my way out for a walk in February snow,
with a friend, or alone,

my blue woolen hat, my mirror smile…

Copyright © 2017 by Gail Mazur. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 28, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.