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Linda Laderman

Elegy for Second Chances

At first, surrounded by the suddenness

of your death, I convinced myself

you were out walking with your dogs.

In a few minutes you’d come back

to grab your red jacket.

It’s chillier than I expected,

want to walk with us?

On rare occasions, I’d accept.

Mostly, I’d go upstairs to write,

seeking solitude from what I’m not sure.

Memory makes a mockery of truth.

Partners in a second marriage

that wasn’t working, our bodies shared

a bed still warm with yesterdays.

We slipped so easily from the early days

when we were each other’s second chances,

a respite from bad marriages, unhappy children.

The night before you died, we argued.

I resented your devotion to your dogs.

You begrudged the time I spent writing.

The next morning you apologized.

I echoed your apology,

then questioned our coexistence..

How could we have another failure?

Was it too late? Maybe therapy.

I clung to possibility.

Even now, I can hear the dogs,

howling at the foot of your stairs.

Merciless messengers. I followed

them down to find you. Arms splayed

across your desk. Solitaire

frozen on the screen.

Why I Think My Third Marriage is Working

Inspired by Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised as a Love Poem,

by Matthew Olzmann

Because you’re an engineer who writes love poems

with titles like Erotica, then wonders why I hide them

in my sock drawer. Because you scribble notes to me

that say, Babe- want to get together later? Because you say

remember I love you and laugh when I thank you.

After my oncologist tells me I caught covid because I’m old

and overweight, you tell me my body is beautiful.

Because you married me even though you knew I had an oncologist.

On our honeymoon you tell the desk clerk we’re celebrating

our 50th anniversary because neither of us will ever have a 50th anniversary.

Because you get on stage and dance with Anna and Elsa at my granddaughter’s

Frozen party, then tell everyone she’s your granddaughter.

When I read Berrigan, you aren’t embarrassed to say, I have no idea why that’s poetry.

Because you slow dance with me in our kitchen and whistle, I’ll be seeing you.

Every time I pull into the garage you shout, hey pretty lady.

On mother’s day you surprise me with a blue feather amulet because I recited

Hope is the thing with feathers when we watched Dickinson on Apple T.V.

When six of my poems are rejected on my birthday you order

my favorite chocolate cake and insist it’s low-calorie.

Because you think you’re still as young as you were

in the picture where you’re looking up at the Israeli sun

dressed in your red beret and paratrooper khakis,

and that makes me feel like I’m young too.

Flying Low

After he flew his plane low over Nam,

the potter, Tom, collected the sky’s colors.

Ochre, orange plumes spliced with cobalt.

Suns like fires sinking to the sea.

I found all those colors up there.

Tom’s lip trembles.

Maybe, from too much weed,

or too much whiskey. I don’t know.

His arms are sinewy, strung like a danseur’s.

I watch him twirl his fingers across

a green ceramic leviathan,

then he turns toward me, and points

to a two-handled pot that looks Grecian.

This deserves an Ode, I say, my hand

brushing over its bronzed patina,

then Tom cups his over mine.

In a half-whisper he says, At the wheel things happen.

I buy the two-handled pot, veined with gold, spilt

over burnt brown leaves, capped by a lid, tied with twigs,

twine, painted wire, too delicate to unfasten.


Linda Laderman is a 73 year-old Detroit writer and poet. She grew up in Toledo, Ohio. Her memoir piece, “Grandmother’s Warning” was published in the summer 2021 edition of the Michigan Jewish Historical Society Journal, and later reprinted in the Detroit Jewish News. Her poetry has appeared in Third Wednesday, One Art, The Scapegoat Review, and others. She has work forthcoming in the Willawaw Journal. For the last decade, she volunteered as a docent at the Zekelman Holocaust Center, where she led adult discussion tours. She is a participant in the Poetry Craft Collective, a cohort of poets that facilitates and encourages each other's work in a workshop environment.


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