Judith Skillman

by Best Poem

As Audible as Ever

It was our language
and we spoke it
with mouths and tongues and ears—
all thought comes from affectation
ah yes, Swedenborg.

Through the particular angel
who was attentive to me
I learned pain was my idiom.
We spoke of the zipper-skin
and the ducts, but we had nothing

in common except Hebrew,
and I had not learned that.
My parents, secular to a fault
kept me from reading right to left.
This gap between the expression

of our intimate dialogue
and its repression,
like the dream and its distance
from tortured interpretation—
jimmied, wrenched forth—

how could I keep up appearances
except by following day and night.
Because I couldn’t adhere
to her schedule
the password altered.

I heard scratching,
as if a Perry Como record
from the fifties were caught
on the turntable, the needle in orbit
around childhood’s source-light.

Judith Skillman’s “Heat Lightning: New and Selected Poems 1986 – 2006“ was published by Silverfish Review Press, Eugene, Oregon, 2006. A new collection, “Prisoner of the Swifts” (96 pp, 2009, ISBN # 978-0-9811704-7-3) has been released from Ahadada Books (ahadadabooks.com). Recipient of an award from the Academy of American Poets for her book “Storm” (Blue Begonia Press, 1998), Skillman’s poems have appeared in Poetry, FIELD, The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Seneca Review, and numerous other journals and anthologies. Please see www.judithskillman.com for more information.

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