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With precise language and deep self-awareness, Margot Wizansky writes her way through the aftermath of a near-fatal medical emergency that left her in a week-long coma and months of gradual rehabilitation. Her poems thoughtfully consider her family’s stunned love in crisis, a garden abandoned and reseeded, the careful dance of redefining intimacy with her husband as her body and mind return to her.
 
– ROBBIE GAMBLE, poetry editor, Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices
 
About

Margot Wizansky, a poet and painter, does much of her writing in a little cottage by the sea on the south coast of Massachusetts.
 
Her first chapbook, Wild for Life, was published by Lily Poetry Review Press in 2022. Her poems have appeared in many journals, such as Poetry East, Lumina, Inkwell, Quarterly West, Potomac Review, American Literary Review, and Spillway. She has edited two anthologies: Mercy of Tides: Poems for a Beach House, and Rough Places Plain: Poems of the Mountains. In Don’t Look Them In The Eye: Love, Life, and Jim Crow, she transcribed the oral history of her friend, Emerson Stamps, whose parents were sharecroppers and grandparents were enslaved. Her original poems accompany his story.

Books
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WILD FOR LIFE
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WHAT THE POEM KNOWS: A TRIBUTE TO BARBARA HELFGOTT HYETT
SWEETIE, SWEETIE
MERCY OF TIDES: POEMS FOR A BEACH HOUSE
ROUGH PLACES PLAIN: POEMS OF THE MOUNTAINS
 
Poems
BEFORE THERE WERE WOMEN

 

 

Men knew nothing of the seasons of water.
They did not bathe in the river nor catch rain
in their mouths. Neither did they quarry
nor plant nor build. They had no plans,
 
wandered aimless as a line without a hook
until the god of forethought
stole for them the wherewithal,
all the fiery arts and comforts—
 
rings and anklets of precious metal,
goblets blown from molten glass,
grilles for their meats,
and they took their pleasure and were not
 
entangled in the weedy glen of longing.
Then women made their entrance,
fluttering in silk, herb-scented,
and strapped men onto the rack of desire.
 
And the one whose hair was twined
with mimosa bore gifts, and she flung
the box open and spread calamity—
insanity, misery with no voice,
 
the human inability to match effect with cause,
the hopeless inconstancy of passion,
and so delivered us our cursed narrative—
the history of love.

DARKNESS BREATHES AND WE DANCE

 

 

Beginner’s patchwork, my sleep, sections stitched
through the night, the first section with its neat hem,
the second a bit more ragged, and on to uneven
pieces attached with big rough stitches that don’t
hold, swaths of time between them.
What wakes me in the night, I hardly know—
you move in the bed, false dawn’s birdsong,
a pain here or there. It’s still a life of miracles,
breakfast that never fails me, sparkle on the water
too bright to see, a cloudless sky, though tomorrow’s
could be mackerel or cirrus, and the miracle of you,
there in the right place, the right time, to save my life.
Then darkness breathes on the window, comes earlier
and earlier to close me in a box, a big one
like a refrigerator carton. Room to move around a bit,
but I can’t leave. I dread that delivery. Much as I delight
when leaves turn to butterscotch, always in the back
of my mind, the pall of bleakness to come.
Music parts the dark skies, a celebration of song
to break the solitude, Bruce Springsteen singing
“Thunder Road”—maybe we ain’t that young anymore
You come to me while I cook, twirl me around
and dance me. It’s been so long. The loneliness we share—
our world of simple ritual might break around us,
might turn to sand, turn to night.

PANTOUM ON THE BLACK SLACKS

 

 

At the boundary waters of her decline,
my little mother decides she needs new black slacks.
So thin from salting her food, forgetting to eat,
I’m trying to find her what fits.
 
My little mother’s decided she needs new black slacks.
In the dressing room, she holds a pair in her hands.
I’m trying to find her what fits.
She can’t remember if she’s about to try them on
 
or take them off, the pair she holds in her hands.
She knew retail, high end. It was her life.
She can’t remember if she’s about to try them on,
slacks on the floor, on the chair, lopsided on hangers.
 
She knew retail, high end. It was her life.
Soon we find a rhythm—I hand her a pair—
slacks on the chair, the floor, on lopsided hangers—
she tries them—rejects them—I whisk them away—
 
soon we find a rhythm—I hand her a pair—
After she tries them, I give her another.
She tries them—rejects them—I whisk them away—
These fit! she says, the very pair she wore this morning.
 
I’m won’t be giving her another pair to try.
So thin from salting her food, forgetting to eat,
these fit! she says, the very pair she wore this morning.
My mother’s at the boundary waters of her decline.

POEM WITH A LINE BY LUCIE BROCK-BROIDO

 

 

The very drawer of salt and ache and rendering,
memory of my father, its separate parts,
taken each by each, and not the whole
 
the memory close to me, close when I am
in semi-isolation. How he too limited himself,
in fear for his heart, some days hardly moved
 
stayed in the drawer of his safety, his big heart weary,
only a few steps into his dance it took him down
big wheel keep on turning
 
heart must have been worn down by blood on his platter,
the raw beef he ate
 
young enough, his hair hadn’t gone very gray, still
curly, those curls he kept clipped lest someone mistake him
for a Mediterranean fisherman
 
though the clip exposed his ears, those big friendly ears
he hated
 
and the salt, salt of his humor, never mean but wry
and unexpected
 
no jokes about mother
and we weren’t to laugh either—
most nights she lay awake listening for his breath
 
the ache he must have felt, always, the ache for what
he didn’t have—his father died too soon
 
and rendering, the wings of love he gave, in his quiet,
and I was sure of it

Poems online
Bellevue Literary Review, Issue 41, “Temporary Separation”
 
Paintings
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Paintings ©2020-2022 by Margot Wizansky

Contact
Get in touch with Margot Wizansky by email here.