Carol Edelstein

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Her first book, The World is Round (Amherst Writers and Artist Press), was published in 1994. Carol has published poems, fiction and essays in many magazines and anthologies, including The Georgia Review, Denver Quarterly, and Alaska Quarterly Review. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. 

This Is a Fact
For now, I have nothing to give you
but the space for this fact. Granted,
it is not a large space, but it isn't small either.
It is winter-fire green, and makes mewing
sounds, like a newborn human or kitten
or a woman well-pleased.
It has invented a language especially suited
for travellers through the labor pains of March
and the growing pains of April.
It wears old shoes around the house and yard,
sings Homeward Bound and She'll Be Comin'
'Round The Mountain. It loves an orange,
skin peeled back into one long spiral.
It loves looking up at the sky.
It is hot and bothered, insomniac, messy, bored and sick.
It can't stop telling its story.
It keeps examining itself.
It can float, swim, and splash.
It cannot get to the bottom of things,
even when doingits best to sink.
It is in our neighborhood.
It keeps calling us.
--from The World Is Round

Very First Itemized Expenses
One rib (hers).
Fifty-five kilos grass and leaves, mixed varieties.
Seven years burbling brook.
Two walking sticks (hickory).
Rice, wheat, potatoes, maize---as needed.
Three conversations with God.
The tailfeathers of a gray parrot.
Eighteen fire-pits, seven with ocean view.
Eleven watertight gourds.
Twenty-five thousand hours of birdsong.
Carrots, celery, onions.
Kiwi fruit, rasberries, grapes---as needed.
Forty bulbs garlic.
Three hundred peppercorns.
One apple.
Two fig leaves.
One gate.
One backward glance (hers).
--from The World Is Round

Earth Signs
See---each ant staggers into the nest
with a dream-shaped crumb.
There they go, there they go---the swallows
who were late for school, doing
their extra arithmetic.
Stand here long enough and a dragonfly
will perch on your index finger,
the first note of hundreds.
Hear the plop of a palm-sized stone
hefted into the pond? It is a frog moving head first
toward center, squeezing those legs
that would be wings if water were air.
The earth must be glad: why else
would these great clouds lying low in the grass
seem like the doffed hats of giants leaving a party?
Or very cruel, to make this white violet,
then hide it under a leaf.
--from The Disappearing Letters

After Korean Proverbs
Even mountains eventually disappear.
If you float on your back on a lake
which has known you since childhood,
barking geese will fly overhead.
Plenty of room, under a rock,
for a thriving metropolis.
The garden in autumn shows only
what has been here all along.
It is natural, in the dark,
to close one's eyes.
--first published in WordWrights!

She Answers the Question I Dare Not Ask
Until today, she has been determined
to resume her old life, nothing less.
Half-measures she has merely
tolerated: surgeries, medicines,
our earnest reports from office and garden,
our soups, murmured prayers, lit candles.
I claim she's been growing prize tomatoes
since before she was born---
she says that's an exaggeration, that
she was five when, for a school assignment,
she grew her first bean from a seed
in a paper cup. Because I am
writing this down, my version
may be the one to live on.
Hwever, she is orrect that she has
refused to loosen her grip.
Too much to do!
But this morning, when I gave her the ocean
in my long look, I think she saw it might be alright
not to learn the hula, or how to speak Chinese.
I think she began to believe she could
go out hungry, watching clouds.
--from The Disappearing Letters