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Florence Weinberger was born in 1932 in New York City and raised in the Bronx. Yiddish was her first language and writing always her first passion. While working full time for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company she tunneled her way through from the subway to Hunter College, graduating with a BA in English in 1956. She taught 3rd grade for one year in Queens and liberated herself from its tyranny by becoming pregnant and a stay-at-home mom. She moved to California in 1959 with her husband and first child. She returned to writing in the early 60's, taking workshops with such teachers as Ann Stanford, Ben Saltman, Jack Grapes, Peter Levitt and Kate Braverman, entering and winning some contests and producing two unpublished novels. Her first two poetry books, The Invisible Telling Its Shape and Breathing Like a Jew, appeared in 1997. Her latest book, Carnal Fragrance, was published by Red Hen Press in fall of 2004.

You Dream About Eating An Egg

No one loved eggs the way you did.
Ate your way through dozens, soft-boiled and scrambled.

Taught your granddaughter how to spoon them
out of the shell.

Ate them pure without salt or butter or ham.
Without guilt.

Careful not to lose a drop
That's why your dream about the yolk spilling out

when you bit into the hot golden center of the egg
scared me to death.

 

Ghost

I have heard of the phenomenon
where the beloved returns
from the grave as if from a tasteless joke
to resume fixing broken chair legs
and taking out the trash. I have not seen you much
these last few days, though on occasions I have
laughed or groaned at the wisp of connection
to a thread of the past. What makes trivia
so compelling? That's how a medium revealed
my mother. By the golden stains on her apron.
the long-overdue apology.
The silly nickname that will never fit anyone else.

from Carnal Fragrance (Red Hen Press)

 

From Where the Feet Grow

Curious how Yiddish won't translate easily
into American idiom so I can share with you
the graze of my father's judgment, but I knew
exactly what he meant when he said
She wants to know from where the feet grow.
I was someone who needed to find the hidden
wellspring of things; no answer would end it
once and for all, none would be perfect,
even come close: feet grow from inches,
from dresses, from socks and buttocks,
feet grow straight out of the flesh, they descend
from hems, they fall from ankles thick with sorrow,
slim with grace, they stick out naked in horses.
My father thought I wanted illumination.
I only wanted to hear him name me in Yiddish,
his voice modulated so I understood
how bemused he was by my brightness,
how charmed by my lust.

from Breathing Like a Jew (Chicory Blue Press)

 

 

1997-2004 Florence Weinberger

 



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