Poems from Ruth Lehrer


There’s a fog on my heart

I don’t know when from

a condensation of moldy heath

stuffed against cell walls too long

What do they call that? Those membranes

those gates – inside outside water pressure

should be

the same. Equalized until

it’s not.

A dry life

A wet garden

In the fall the leaves don’t rot

not yet

Dry until they are wet

Wet until they are dry

Saving water

between sheaths

of cells.

Rot only happens

after the frost

after the spring.

A Coldish May

Her dog bit her she said

it was by accident

as if in a haze

on the road

in the dust

She let the bite fester

till warm and hopeless

on a calloused hand

The dog’s mouth bloody

but innocent

She often said

she was looking

for a way out

She doesn’t answer

when you protest

that it’s still


Diagnostic differential

I know it’s cliché but

it feels like fire

Obviously no flame

You can’t actually see and attest

but still I’d like to stand by my word

except when they ask

they ask for verbs

They ask

is it

burning, stabbing, plunging, radiating

Is it

jabbing, throbbing, stinging, panting

I want to say

sharp like a tack

mean like a squib

rude like a fork

I want to say esoteric

not garden variety

I fail their test

But maybe they’re right

if a verb

is just a way

to stretch time

ad infinitum.

About Ruth Lehrer

Ruth Lehrer is a writer and sign language interpreter living in western Massachusetts. Her writing has been published in many journals such as Lilith and Jubilat. Her poetry chapbook, TIGER LAUGHS WHEN YOU PUSH, is published by Headmistress Press. Her young adult novel, BEING FISHKILL, is available from Candlewick Press. She can be found at ruthlehrer.com


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