The Pearls

By on Feb 4, 2015 in Poetry

A pixellated woman in a 1960s silhouette dress, with superimposed pearls.

An engagement present from my husband’s parents.
Shoved in a drawer like small eggs waiting to hatch,
forgotten. They seemed like something in a high school
photograph. I’d have preferred a large wrought iron pendant,
beads that caught the sun. Pearls were for them

and I was always only a visitor, tho he said he wished
I’d call him Dad. Sam was all I could get out.
It was hard to throw my arms around him, to bubble
and kiss. And not just because they thought
me a hippie, a witch, thought I took

their son’s car and stamps and coin collections.
Pearls wouldn’t go with my corduroy smocks, long black
ironed hair. They didn’t blend with my hoops of onyx
and abalone that made holes in my ears but caught the light.
Pearls might have gone with the suits I threw away,
no longer a graduate student trying to please.
They weren’t suitable for days with a poet hidden in trees
or for throwing up wine in toilet bowls after poetry readings
where I shook and swore not to let anyone see. My spider medallion
is in at least eight poems. Pearls remind me of the way I thought

I was: studious but not wild, not interesting. But I put those pearls
on last night tho I hadn’t planned to wear them. They didn’t seem ugly
or apt to choke, seemed gentle and mild as so little is in my life
these days. I slept in nothing but those pearls, they seemed part of me.


Lyn Lifshin has published over 130 books and chapbooks including three from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It's Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize-winning book about the short-lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness. Recent books include Ballroom, All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially The Lies, Light At the End: The Jesus Poems, Katrina, Mirrors, Persphone, Lost In The Fog, Knife Edge & Absinthe: The Tango Poems . NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also just out: For the Roses, poems after Joni Mitchell and Hitchcock Hotel from Danse Macabre; Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle and Tangled as the Alphabet,-- The Istanbul Poems from NightBallet Press. Just released, as well, Malala, the DVD of Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. The Marilyn Poems was just released from Rubber Boots Press. An update to her Gale Research Autobiography is out: Lips, Blues, Blue Lace: On The Outside. Also just out is a DVD of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Just out: Femme Eterna and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems. Forthcoming: Degas Little Dancer and Winter Poems from Kind of a Hurricane press, Poems and Paintings from Tangerine press and The Silk Road from Night Ballet, Ice Maiden from Transcendent Zero Press