I have been an educator for over 35 years in various roles as teacher, principal, professor and currently superintendent of schools in Mountainside, New Jersey. I have published articles in several academic journals, frequently on the subject of teaching poetry, but my great love is writing poetry. I recently received Honorable Mention in the 2014 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards. My poems have appeared in a number of journals including Paterson Literary Review, Poetica, Poetry Nook, Stillwater Review, and Tiferet. My chapbook, Tattoos, is available through Finishing Line Press, http://www.finishinglinepress.com
My sister survived September 11th.
She was a temp a block away
from the World Trade Center.
The police evacuated her building.
When she reached the street, she headed
uptown with the frantic crowds.
I called her cell phone that day,
relieved that no one could get through.
Usually I don’t hear from her;
When I call she lets the phone ring.
Once I drove into the city to check on her.
I unlocked the door; she was in her
nightgown, smoking in the glow of the
television. But this time she called.
She wanted to tell me how people huddled
together, held hands, shared cabs;
she wanted to tell me that she was
alive and on her way home.
As we unlock each lock of my sister’s
apartment, pull away yellow police tape,
push open the door — we see newspapers
stacked to the window sills, piles of CD’s
still in cellophane, umbrellas, pocketbooks,
cabinets crammed with serving pieces, sofas
swollen with pillows, the coffee table con-
cealed by months of magazines, only slivers
of floor space. In the bedroom, dresser
drawers stuffed with clothes — still with
tags. Collections of excess — more than she
needed, less than she wanted. I can leave it
all, but what haunts me is the diamond — my
mother’s engagement ring. After our parents’
were gone, my sister was adamant that she
keep it. And here I am trying to find it in all
of this. I almost give up; then on the closet
floor I spot the black canvas bag she carried
everywhere. I step over mounds of shoes
and boots, unzip the bag, search until I feel
the sharp prongs of an empty setting. Had it
jiggled loose? Did she sell it for rent? What
was her plan in those last desperate days?
The Mustang Girls Sit Shiva
The four of them and my sister
wore stiff leather jackets, thick
black eyeliner, eyed each other
in the halls; but only after they
passed their drivers’ tests did
they bond. Each bought a used
Mustang – the fleet spanned
the late sixties: blue Fastback,
red GT, green convertible,
black Mach I, and my sister’s
white coupe. The Mustang girls
drove in tandem, parked their
cars side by side, chain smoked
Marlboro Lights. Thirty years
later I look up from serving coffee
to see four middle aged women
reassemble at my front door, threads
of gray in their hair, eyeliner
softened with their waistlines. They
greet me awkwardly, move to sit by
the fireplace; they laugh and hug.
Elsewhere small talk is heavy like
indigestion, but their reminiscence
of the missing driver floats up. Traces
drift toward me as I circulate — her car
taboos, schemes to get her to come
on time, unreturned phone calls. Their
voices waver when they speak of
reunions where she never showed — they
realize they will grow old without her.
©2015 Nancy Lubarsky