Alicia Ostriker


When I try to look into my soul
something always interrupts
like a stone dropped into a well

What is this foolish fear in my stomach
turning like a wheel
Is it that mother will be angry

that the universe will forget me
that the soul will be empty
an old pants pocket with a hole

what is it

answers to riddles

mother will be angry
eternity goes forward and backward
before your birth and after your death

what do you think you are
what do you think the soul is
what is it


when the mother is dancing
and everybody is worshiping her
then she doesn't punish


hard traveling
one thing at a time
one foot in front of the other
where are you
it's a damn long journey


been gone so long
why don't you call


Can't remember why we separated
was it you who wanted freedom
was it me

Alicia Ostriker's most recent book of poems, The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968-1998, was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Lenore Marshall Award of the Academy of American Poets. Her most recent prose volume is Dancing at the Devils Party: Essays on Poetry, Politics, and the Erotic. Ostriker lives in Princeton, NJ, and teaches english and Creative Writing at Rutgers University.



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