Dark Lady Poetry - Judith Skillman




Judith Skillman


Such a Long Life


          After Jack Gilbert

At first it is just the salt-taste of bridges,
the strangeness of animals,
the orange horizon scrawled
by winter sunset. We take this lineage in,
and it gives us back our own, like Bluebloods
persecuted in a forest. We come to be afraid
of limned windows, the strangers
behind blinds, the streetlights haloed
by myopia, the past pulling all our fathers
into hunger’s single crib. The more we stare
at the moon, the more we see its pockmarks
and pits, seas and valleys where once
the surface was undisturbed. In this
we are like the children we bear,
who give back their immortality
as if it were nothing more than a coin
to be thrown in a well after the one wish was made.
With little more than half a moon
and the rain-gnawed spit-misted sun,
we come of age in order to bear luster,
to beat our short arms
against the swath of blue-green that hovers
in the brevity between earth and sky.




 Judith Skillman’s eleventh collection of poems is “Prisoner of the Swifts” Ahadada Books ( ).  Her manuscript “The Never” was a finalist for the FIELD/Oberlin Press Award in 2009 and is forthcoming from Dream Horse Press in 2010. “Heat Lightning: New and Selected Poems 1986 – 2006“ was published by Silverfish Review Press, Eugene, Oregon, 2006.   The recipient of an award from the Academy of American Poets for her book “Storm” (Blue Begonia Press, 1998), Skillman’s work has appeared in Poetry, FIELD, The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Seneca Review, and numerous other journals and anthologies.  An educator, editor, and stained glass addict, she holds an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Maryland, and lives in Kennydale, Washington.