Download PDF Here Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume One Sept-October 2022.
It Could Happen— You Could Die Now, poems by Phyllis Klein.
It Could Happen— You Could Die Now
You could give up, or is it your body that’s fleeing
a memory, a specter? You stand at the window,
its stealth curtains in shut-down. You lie in bed, sleep
clacking at you from the kitchen. You sit at the laden table,
starving. You, who ate her way through New Zealand
in those two weeks we went from fishatarians to carnivores
surrounded by the best lamb on the planet. Our bone carved
Maori-hook necklaces meant to remind us how generous islands
can be pulled up by spirits from the house of the sea.
Whatever happened to yours? Tell me how to fish you out
of this hole you’ve slipped into. Whatever you wished for,
lost now in a house’s red closet of grief. My friend, I call for you.
It could happen, you could live now. You could trick yourself back
from oceans of freeze, turn back from the blue whirlpool’s edge.
You could decide to live, to swim home in a rise of tides,
your watermarked walls stained, as signposts.
She Completed this Work Shortly After She Died
“Music, poems, landscape, and dogs make me want to paint…
And painting is what allows me to survive.”
—Joan Mitchell, 1972
If only she’d had more years. If only she could have taken
a few canvases with her to the Other Side, her raucous
sunsets rendered in strokes of pink and black with semi-gloss
or matte. I hate the idea that death arrives
in the middle. The girl whose dog wanders off might
launch a search party for the rest of her life.
I know people who punish themselves forever.
I might be one of them. How natural it seems
to paint internal winters of charcoal and ash
onto paper. To push myself into over-production,
no time for respite. I don’t want to be dead, don’t want
to be a statue even if I’m in a museum. I’d rather pretend
that the dog reappears at the door, pretend that my body
isn’t aging. But it’s going to happen, this hard-stop
into the abstract, even if brushstrokes remain, this ending.
© Phyllis Klein
Phyllis Klein is a psychotherapist and poet from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Chiron Review, Sweet, 3Elements, I-70, The Minnesota Review, New Verse News, Poetry Hotel, and Gyroscope Review among many others. She was a finalist in the Sweet Poetry Contest, 2017, the Carolyn Forche Humanitarian Poetry Contest, 2019, and the Fischer Prize, 2019. She’s been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes. Her new book, The Full Moon Herald from Grayson Books is a newspaper of poetry and has won honorable mention in poetry for the Eric Hoffer Book Award, 2021. During the Pandemic she starting a reading called Poets in Conversation to help foster connections between authors and readers.