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Judith Baumel

Judith Baumel is the author of two books of poetry: Now (University of Miami Press, 1996) and The Weight of Numbers (Wesleyan University Press, 1988), for which she won the Walt Whitman Award, judged by Mona Van Duyn. She has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, among others. A former director of the Poetry Society of America, Baumel is the founding director of the creative writing program at Adelphi University, where she is currently a professor of English. She lives in the Bronx.

By This Poet


I Too Was Loved By Daphne

Daphne was known within these doors
And to these streets. Lovely her humor and lovely her smile
We tear our garments and sit on low boxes
Let's see who can sing the best story.

I will praise as best I can
Taking my turn to raise our Daphne up
Among the stars, Daphne shall be high
Among the stars; I too was loved by Daphne.

Morning coffee bitter and milky with gossip.
Our mothers still offering worried apposite
Instructions. We'd gather the awful scraps 
At the kitchen table and smooth them flat.   

Why do I care that she was still beautiful
Yesterday in this last photo—Daphne's pearly skin 
And delicate frozen face tilting up between 
Her boy and girl, between her next-to-last and last breath.

One autumn hayride into the apple picking orchard
We locked shoulders, bowed our heads in talk, then heard
Calling, weeping in the dappling light. Left behind, 
Our little boys were searching for us hand in hand.

Who was there when Daphne's hands stopped
Closing? Where was fate when Daphne's tongue
Thickened and set in her mouth. Or the breezes
When Daphne's  muscles no longer moved her lungs?

Mornings on the Palisade greenway, the path
A jumble of undergrowth and branches and glass,
We walked and talked and thought, but it wasn't true,
That my life was closing down and hers was blazing anew.

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