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Cecilia Woloch was born in Pittsburgh, PA and grew up there and in rural Kentucky, one of seven children of a seamstress and an airplane mechanic. She attended Transylvania University in Kentucky, earning degrees in English and Theater Arts before moving west in 1979. A celebrated teacher of creative writing and formerly LA Project Director for California Poets in the Schools, Ms. Woloch has conducted poetry workshops for thousands of children and young people. For five years she also led workshops for the writing staff of Disney's Imagineering Division and has served on the creative writing faculties at the University of Redlands, The University of Southern California and California State University at Northridge.  She completed her MFA in Poetry at Antioch University in LA in 1999 and joined the faculty of the MFA Program in Poetry in New England College in 2002. She is the founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild, a week-long celebration of poets and poetry held each July. 

Her first book-length manuscript, Sacrifice, was published by Cahuenga Press in 1997. In 1998 it received a special mention from the Pushcart Prize committee and in 2001 it was a BookSense 76 selection. Her second volume, a book-length poem about the gypsies of eastern Europe, Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem, was released by Cahuenga Press in March 2002. Her third collection, Late, was released by BOA Editions, Ltd, in October 2003. In June 2004 The Georgia Writers Association named Woloch Georgia Author of the Year in Poetry for Late. She continues to travel widely and maintains residences in both Atlanta and Los Angeles.

BAREBACK PANTOUM

One night, bareback and young, we rode through the woods
and the woods were on fire —
two borrowed horses, two local boys
whose waists we clung to, my sister and I

and the woods were on fire —
the pounding of hooves and the smell of smoke and the sharp sweat of boys
whose waists we clung to, my sister and I,
as we rode toward flame with the sky in our mouths —
the pounding of hooves and the smell of smoke and the sharp sweat of boys
and the heart saying: mine
as we rode toward flame with the sky in our mouths —
the trees turning gold, then crimson, white

and the heart saying: mine
of the wild, bright world;
the trees turning gold, then crimson, white
as they burned in the darkness, and we were girls

of the wild, bright world
of the woods near our house — we could turn, see the lights
as they burned in the darkness, and we were girls
so we rode just to ride

through the woods near our house — we could turn, see the lights
and the horses would carry us, carry us home
so we rode just to ride,
my sister and I, just to be close to that danger, desire 

and the horses would carry us, carry us home
— two borrowed horses, two local boys,
my sister and I — just to be close to that danger, desire —

one night, bareback and young, we rode through the woods.

 

LATE

Had I met you when I was a girl, all bony laughter and ragged sighs, I would have fallen under your shadow, knelt in the grass, been your weed, your bride. And had I met you when I was another man's wife
still young, hair full of flameI'd have taken the spell for a sign. I'd have been jewel to your thief, little sin, and never forgiven myself for that kiss. Or had I met you in the early wind of my solitude, I might have snapped. Cracked like that naked branch I swung from all those aching, brilliant nights. Instead, you came late, you came after I'd made myself into harbor and chalice and wick. More like the ashes than any warm hearth. More like a widow than wanton, beloved. And you lifted me over the wall of the garden and carried me back to my life.

 

ON FAITH

How do people stay true to each other?
When I think of my parents all those years 
in the unmade bed of their marriage, not ever
longing for anything else--or: no, they must
have longed; there must have been flickerings, 
stray desires, nights she turned from him,
sleepless, and wept; nights he rose silently,
smoked in the dark; nights that nest of breath 
and tangled limbs must have seemed 
like it wasn't enough. But it was. Or they just
held on. A gift, perhaps, I've tossed out,
having been always too willing to fly
to the next love, the next and the next, certain
nothing was really mine, certain nothing 
would ever last. So faith hits me late, if at all; 
faith that this latest love won't end, or ends
in the shapeless sleep of death. But faith is hard.
When he turns his back to me now, I think:
disappear. I think: not what I want. I think 
of my mother lying awake in those arms 
that could crush her. That could have. Did not.

from Late (BOA Editions 2003)

 

 2004 Cecilia Woloch

 



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