Poetry by Yvonne Zipter

Read More: A brief interview with Yvonne Zipter

Osteosarcoma: A Love Poem

For Easton, Zooey, and Nacho

Cancer loves the long bone,
the femur and the fibula,
the humerus and ulna,
the greyhound’s sleek physique,
a calumet, ribboned with fur
and eddies of dust churned to a smoke,
the sweet slenderness of that languorous
lick of calcium, like an ivory flute or a stalk
of Spiegelau stemware, its bowl
bruised, for an eye blink, with burgundy,
a reed, a wand, the violin’s bow—
loves the generous line of your lanky limbs,
the distance between points A and D,
epic as Western Avenue, which never seems to end
but then of course it does, emptying
its miles into the Cal-Sag Channel
that river of waste and sorrow.
I’ve begun a scrapbook:
here the limp that started it all, here
your scream when the shoulder bone broke,
here that walk to the water dish,
your leg trailing like a length
of black bunting. And here the words I whispered
when your ears lay like spent milkweed pods
on that beautiful silky head:
Run. Run, my boy-o,
in that madcap zigzag,
unzipping the air.

untitled

Grace Lesson

In those days when it was shameful
for a woman to be so careless
as to lose a breast, my mother
wore a scar like the sign of the cross
ablaze on her chest, the edges puckered
like a narrow lip
imparting disapproval.

In those first awful months
of healing, the women’s cancer
underground guided her
to an artificial breast. At an old-fashioned
ladies lingerie shop—the prosthetics
just another thing
to make a woman pretty—
I, a shy fourteen, searched,
among the bustiers and brassieres,
for something to look at
that didn’t remind me
of loss, while the clerks,
behind a curtain with my mother—wizards
with a measuring tape—cooed
over the stitchwork
as if she were a sampler, bright
with moralization.

I imagine her afterward,
naked to the waist
in her vanity mirror,
fingering the knotted rope
up her chest, trying to arrive
at the clerks’ sunny view.

When it came—the foam rubber mound (studded
with ball bearings to give the heft […]


Subscribers can read the full version by logging in.
Not a subscriber? Sequestrum is a pay-what-you-can journal:
Our rates are variable so that everyone can enjoy outstanding literature.
Access this and all our bi-weekly publications (and submit for free).

Subscribe Today



untitled

Manners of the Flesh

For RPD

If I lift my eyes toward heaven,
will the rest be raised up, too?
If I press my hands in the manner of a prayer,
a hitchhiker of the spirit, will I arrive?
If I kneel beside the bed of a loved one,
her body a splinter in her soul,
an ache in my heart,
a rent in the mantle of our history,
if I submit to the idiosyncratic nature
of the mind of life, which converts a gland—
the spitting image of an almond—
into a thorn, a spike, a bullet hotly seeking a mark, […]


Subscribers can read the full version by logging in.
Not a subscriber? Sequestrum is a pay-what-you-can journal:
Our rates are variable so that everyone can enjoy outstanding literature.
Access this and all our bi-weekly publications (and submit for free).

Subscribe Today



___________________________________

Yvonne Zipter is the author of the chapbook Like Some Bookie God and a full-length collection, The Patience of Metal. Her poems have appeared in such periodicals as Poetry, Calyx, Crab Orchard Review, Metronome of Aptekarsky Ostrov (Russia), Bellingham Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review, as well as several anthologies. She is the recipient of a fellowship to the Summer Literary Seminar in St. Petersburg, Russia, and an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award for the poem “Grace Lesson.” She has also published two nonfiction books, short fiction, and essays. She married her long-time partner, Kathy Forde, in 2014.

“Osteosarcoma: A Love Poem,” “Grace Lesson,” and “Manners of The Flesh” originally appeared in PoetrySouthern Humanities Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review and were runners-up in the 2018 Editor’s Reprint Award (poetry).

Read More: A brief interview with Yvonne Zipter