Stephanie

by Kathleen Vibbert
Wild Poetry Forum
Honorable Mention, July 2009
Judged by George Szirtes


Stephanie came to live with us from Yugoslavia.
She had small shoulders, a nervous laugh,
and the half-moons of her fingernails were egg white.

She described her late mother as a winter tree,
her father’s senility between King and drifter.
Quiet. When I first heard her voice I asked

what she aspired to. A chef, she replied.
Olives. The sleep of marinade.
Cutting limes, selecting blackberries as if they were a song,
dropping chocolate centers onto sheets of cut rite.

She brings sweet weather and rest.
Elegance, for the way she carries the spice trays to the table,
breathing deeply as the bread rises,
weary toward evening near an open window.


"Stephanie," like a number of other poems uses the first line to set up the situation. I am not sure that is necessary in this case or indeed in some of the others. Entering in medias res is generally good advice. The end is beautiful and not over-resolved. The second verse is nicely enigmatic. The third maybe a touch over-explicit but still under control. Maybe at the very end, as with "The Rebuttal," I feel the poem is too much resolved in the writer's mind before the poem actually starts. It's a nuisance 'having something to say'. It's always better to discover what one might have to say. --George Szirtes

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