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by Julie Hill Alger | by Julie Hill Alger. You can read it on PoetrySoup.com' st_url='http://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/23147/Tuesdays_Child' st_title='Tuesday's Child'>

Tuesday's Child

All the babies born that Tuesday,
full of grace, went home by Thursday
except for one, my tiny girl
who rushed toward light too soon.

All the Tuesday mothers wheeled
down the corridor in glory,
their arms replete with warm baby;
I carried a potted plant.

I came back the next day and the next,
a visitor with heavy breasts,
to sit and rock the little pilgrim,
nourish her, nourish me.


by Julie Hill Alger |

Marketplace Report January 23, 1991

The new war is a week old.
Bombs fall on Baghdad,
missiles on Tel Aviv.
The voice on the radio says
the armament dealers of Europe
are hopeful that a longer war
will be good for business.
They say, as fighting continues
there will be wear and tear
on matériel. Spare parts
must be manufactured,
as well as replacements
for equipment blown apart,
shattered, set afire.

Prudently, the merchants
consult their spreadsheets.
They guard against euphoria
and prepare for a possible
downside to this bonanza:
the Allies are shooting
at their best customer,
Saddam Hussein. If he loses
their market will be depressed.
There is also a danger of
restrictions on sales
to angry dictators. Thus,
the longterm effects of the war
may not all be positive.


by Julie Hill Alger |

Luna

I walk home at August moonrise
past a bright window.

Inside the room
an old woman sees the full moon
and turns off the lamp.

Afterimage shines in my eye:
pale face, snowy hair.

Moonlight streams over the dark house
like cool milk.
When the lamp is out, is the woman
still standing there alone?

In memory, her upraised hand glows;
in the house it is darker than shadow.
I stand on the sidewalk,
moonstruck.

Metaphysics of an old lamp:
the shade has less meaning
than a soul's body.

Physics of a window:
Glass is thicker than night air,
thinner than wonder.

The question of whiteness
bears looking into.

So does a window.

Sounds of a moonlight night
are softer than rainwater.

Before responding to a face
at the window, first ascertain whether
it's looking out or looking in.

Also, whether it's the moon
or someone else.

None of this, of course,
explains the perfumes of August
or the way the moon silvers the grass.

Turn around and look again-
She is still there.

The first question has not
been answered. What was it? 


by Julie Hill Alger |

Pictures of Home

  In the red-roofed stucco house
of my childhood, the dining room 
was screened off by folding doors 
with small glass panes. Our neighbors
the Bertins, who barely escaped Hitler, 
often joined us at table. One night 
their daughter said, In Vienna 
our dining room had doors like these.
For a moment, we all sat quite still. 

And when Nath Nong, who has to live
in Massachusetts now, saw a picture 
of green Cambodian fields she said, 
My father have animal like this, 
name krebey English? I told her, 
Water buffalo. She said, Very very
good animal. She put her finger 
on the picture of the water buffalo 
and spoke its Khmer name once more. 

So today, when someone (my ex-
husband) sends me a shiny picture 
of a church in Santa Cruz that lost 
its steeple in the recent earthquake 
there's no reason at all 
for my throat to ache at the sight
of a Pacific-blue sky and an old church
three thousand miles away, because 
if I can only save enough money 

 I can go back there any time
and stay as long as I want. 

 -Julie Alger


by Julie Hill Alger |

Opening the Geode

 When the molten earth seethed 
in its whirling cauldron 
nobody watched the pot 
from a tall wooden stool 
set out in windy space 
beyond flame's reach;

and when the spattering mush 
steamed, gurgled, boiled over, 
mounded up in smoking hills
no giant mixing spoon 
smoothed out the lumps and bubbles 
as the pottage cooled to rock. 

No kitchen timer ticked 
precisely the eons required 
to fill the gritty pits 
slowly, drop by drop 
with layers of glassy salts, 
agate, opal, quartz; 

no listening ear inclined 
over the silicon mold 
to hear the chink of crystals 
rising geometrically 
facet upon facet 
in the airless dark. 

No hand lifted the stony lid 
to add light, the finishing touch, 
and no guest cried Ah! how well
the recipe turned out - 
until this millennium, today, 
at my table. 
 -Julie Alger


by Julie Hill Alger |

Lesson 1

 At least I've learned this much:
Life doesn't have to be
all poetry and roses. Life
can be bus rides, gritty sidewalks,
electric bills, dishwashing,
chapped lips, dull stubby pencils
with the erasers chewed off,
cheap radios played too loud,
the rank smell of stale coffee 
yet still glow
with the inner fire of an opal,
still taste like honey.

 -Julie Alger


by Julie Hill Alger |

Death in the Family

 They call it stroke.
Two we loved were stunned
by that same blow of cudgel
or axe to the brow.
Lost on the earth
they left our circle
broken.


 One spent five months
falling from our grasp
mute, her grace, wit,
beauty erased.
Her green eyes gazed at us
as if asking, as if aware,
as if hers. One night
she slipped away;
machinery of mercy
brought her back 
to die more slowly. 
At long last
she escaped.


 Our collie dog
fared better. 
A lesser creature, she
had to spend only one day
drifting and reeling,
her brown eyes 
beseeching. Then she
was tenderly lifted,
laid on a table,
praised, petted 
and set free.


 -Julie Alger