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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