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Barbara Tomash


Handwriting, a word in motion. Cursive
sounds like a curse. She enters
with folded laundry. As if I wake—
turquoise naugahyde sofa, stories
scribbled all over in ball-point

the sound of my voice tape recorded
fish feeding on the bottom of the aquarium
apple becoming persimmon
in the palm of my hand

Petite camera, no lens
for focus. Framed: chateaux, Rodins,
cone-shaped topiary. A man reaches
with his pruning shears. I need to know
where to stand

I watch mine with a critical eye
her shiny, sharp scissors I took to things. Example:
lace curtains

With a kleenex I try to rub my fingerprints
off the face of a woman
painted by Vermeer

the sunlight in 1663 materializes
something shadowed under the table

and they smear

It’s either too dark, or there’s too much
glare. In front of the painting, I walk
in a semicircle until I feel two foot-shaped
declivities in the stone floor

the girl seated within the arched portico of her
garden, her book fallen
the angel kneeling to speak




┬áBarbara Tomash’s poems have appeared in Colorado Review, New American Writing, VOLT, Zyzzyva and many others. Her book-length prose poem sequence, Flying in Water (Winnow Press, 2005) won the Winnow First Poetry Award. She lives in Berkeley and teaches in the Creative Writing department at San Francisco State University.