Donna Prinzmetal – In Another Life

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In Another Life, poems by Donna Prinzmetal

Donna Prinzmetal is a poet, psychotherapist and teacher. She has taught poetry and creative writing for more than 25 years to adults and children. Donna often uses writing to facilitate restoration and healing in her psychotherapy practice. Her poems have appeared in many magazines including Prairie SchoonerThe Comstock Review, and The Journal. Her first book, Snow White, When No One Was Looking, was published with CW Books in May of 2014.                      

“What I Saw In The Water”

 Frida Kahlo, 1938

The painting’s dominant element is a pair of feet sticking out of the bathtub water. We can clearly see the bleeding sore between the deformed big and second toes of the right foot, a typical defect accompanying congenital dysraphisms, including spina bifida.
“Neurological Deficits in the Life and Works of Frida Kahlo”
Valmantas Budrys

This isn’t what I expected, following the tributaries
all the way to the amniotic pool where nobody can hear me,
through the blue concavities of water.

Just when I’ve decided to work on loving the life I already have,
I recognize the imposter in the mirror.
I hold the wet bundle in these shrunken hands and try to whistle

as if there is nothing luminous,
as if the hazard light hadn’t been blinking
in my eyes for weeks.

What would I choose
if I didn’t suspect myself of larceny,
of tongue-tied spear-throwing regret,

of illegally obtaining the secret name for everything:
tofu, the cistern, the secular weight loss resort, Sanka?
I thought I could be washed clean that way,

a wash of ordinary language falling down
my back, there, where lips had swarmed a surprise pucker,
the stranger that signed his name six inches above my knee

and sang to me, an artistic cripple.
mourning her lost toes,
only he lost his words, or was it me?

In Another Life

In another life,
I am not afraid of spiders
or the soft sticky dew-drenched web
touching my face in the yard.

Or perhaps, I am entirely coordinated, a dancer, on point.
My mother has taken me to lessons many times a week
since I was three, until I can drive myself.
In another life, I have such a mother.
In that life, she remembers all the years
of ballet lessons.  She comes to every show
and tells all her bridge partners
about her famous dancer daughter.

In another life my parents never die,
never get old or infirm.
They teach me how to grow a thriving
vegetable and flower garden.
I learn the name and care for every rose.
My dad plays baseball with my son.
My mother teaches my daughter how to sew a ball gown.

In another life I go to Sarah Lawrence
and become a famous poet.
I am the person everyone wants to talk to at AWP.
I am the Grande Dame of literary society.
I don’t have my husband or my two children,
but I do have a Pulitzer and I have been shortlisted
for the Nobel, twice.

In another life I am a bear,
foraging for voles and berries,
I know every corner of these woods
and I can recite each braid of silence
in every tongue but ours,
as if it were a poem.

In this life, I am just a woman who stops at the pond
where words swim like bright fish,
and takes a small sip there.
I’m a woman who speaks to ghosts in her sleep
who picks up her broken pieces
and tries hard to love them.

© Donna Prinzmetal

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