Two Poems by Doris L. Ferleger


I failed to bring
to our son’s birthday dinner
before the guests arrived.
It had to do with our son wanting
to be taken care of, and me not wanting
to take care—without you.
It had to do with time, hours
I hadn’t called him back, split seconds,
one year and forever of you
dead, yet still rooted
inside me, making my body refuse
to be lifted, as being lifted
by our son would mean
you will never again
be the one to lift me. And the two of us,
our son and I—would need
to keen together
on his thirtieth birthday
not about the too-late burger
meat but about your too-early
dying, and the guests would have to go
hungry even longer. So you see
it had to do with my eyes
getting to see our son alive
another year without you
and our son’s eyes silently
guiding me to rise
breathe and turn
toward what was
left of the sun.



And because we are the wind-
driven ripples on the lake

as well as the boat’s wake
and also the lake’s glass stillness at sunrise

when it’s impossible to imagine
anything other than such peace—

and because we are also the jagged
rocks that jut up from the lake bottom

making boats need repair—
and because we are the brokenness

and also the beauty—let us open
our eyes, see through our salt-tears—

the other—as ally, as nourishment,
as necessary

for love. A grievous thing, a joyful thing
to have a love to witness

or be witnessed by
in living and in dying, let us treasure

love’s valiance, love’s travails,
love’s victories, love’s unendingness.

Doris Ferleger is a winner of the New Letters Poetry Songs of Eretz Prize, Montgomery County Poet Laureate Prize, Robert Fraser Poetry Prize, and the AROHO Creative Non-Fiction Prize, among others. She is the author of three full volumes of poetry: Big Silences in a Year of Rain (finalist for the Alice James Books/Beatrice Hawley Award), As the Moon Has Breath, and Leavened, as well as a chapbook entitled When You Become Snow. Her work has been published in numerous journals including Cimarron Review, Delmarva Review, Euphony, Good Works Review, L.A. Review, Poet Lore, Whistling Shade, and South Carolina Review. She holds an MFA in Poetry and a PhD in Psychology and maintains a mindfulness-based therapy practice in Wyncote, PA.