Three Poems by Lyn Lifshin

But Instead Has Gone Into Woods

A girl goes into the woods
and for what reason
disappears behind branches
and is never heard from again.
We don’t really know why,
she could have gone shopping
or had lunch with her mother
but instead has gone into
woods, alone, without the lover,
and not for leaves or flowers.
It was a clear bright day
very much like today.
It was today. Now you might
imagine I’m that girl,
it seems there are reasons. But
first consider: I don’t live
very near those trees and my
head is already wild with branches

I Was Four, In Dotted

Swiss summer pajamas,
my face a blotch of
measles in the small
dark room over blue
grapes and rhubarb,
hot stucco cracking.
17 North Seminary.
That July Friday
noon my mother was
rushed in the grey
blimp of a Chevy
north to where my
sister Joy would be
born two months
early. I wasn’t
ready either and
missed my mother’s
cool hands, her
bringing me frosty
glasses of pineapple
juice and cherries
with a glass straw
as Nanny lost her
false teeth, flushed
them down the toilet
then held me so tight
I could smell lavender
and garlic in her
braided her, held
me as so few ever
have since, as if
not to lose more

Some Afternoons When Nobody Was Fighting

my mother took out
walnuts and chocolate
chips. My sister and
I plunged our fingers
in flour and butter
smoother than clay.
Pale dough oozing
between our fingers
while the house filled
with blond bars rising.
Mother in her pink dress
with black ballerinas
circling its bottom
turned on the Victrola,
tucked her dress up into
pink nylon bloomer pants,
kicked her legs up in the
air and my sister and I
pranced thru the living
room, a bracelet around
her. She was our Pied
Piper and we were
the children of Hamlin,
circling her as close as the
dancers on her hem

Lyn Lifshin has written more than 120 books and edited four anthologies, most recently: The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian (Texas Review Press) and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me (Black Sparrow at Godine). Forthcoming books include A Girl Goes Into The Woods from New York Quarterly Books and For The Roses: Poems for Joni Mitchell. Her web site is