I'm sitting at a little table
by the bakery window
having the mug of tea and raspberry scone
that's my weekly treat after therapy.
If my eyes are swollen it's from
that cry I had after Dr. Coursin said,
There's nothing wrong with you
that wouldn't be soothed by being with a man
who knows how to hold you.
Across the street the UPS man's loading
packages into his truck. I wonder
if he'd know how. Or that bald guy
with the briefcase who just walked by.
No matter how old I get, part of me
stays sixteen, still living in Manila,
Books help. This bakery's
next to Gibson's Bookstore.
As soon as I finish my snack, I'll check out
the poetry. When Dr. Coursin said,
Why don't you try writing a poem?
I thought he was nuts.
I said, I don't like poetry. I forgot
about those words that roll through my head.
Before my boyfriend--that first love
you think will never leave you--left,
Srta. Martinez, my Spanish teacher
taught them to us. I can still see her.
Gray hair. Glasses. The way she stood
beside her desk, ran her finger
down the roster, then one by one called us
to the front, made us look straight ahead
and recite. She said those words helped her
survive the sight of Japanese soldiers
marching her father off to his death.
I still don't understand them completely--
something about a king, a prisoner,
that we aren't who we are--
I love how they sound, though.
After that boy left I said them over and over.
I'm saying them now.
* Reprinted with permission by CavanKerry Press, from Korfhage's debut collection We Aren't Who We Are and This World Isn't Either, Cavnkerry 2007. The below bio is taken from CavanKerry Press.
Christine Korfhage was born in Albany, NY and grew up overseas. A former artisan and juried member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, she began writing poetry at age 49. Returning to school after three decades, in 1999 she received her B.A. from Vermont College’s Adult Degree Program where she was awarded a Fellowship for Excellence in Creative Writing. She received her M.F.A. from Bennington College in 2001. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Chiron Review, Connecticut River Review, Nimrod International Review, Paterson Literary Review, Pearl, Red Rock Review and The Spoon River Poetry Review. A mother and grandmother, Christine lives in New Hampshire.