A Journal of poetry and kindred prose

Judith Arcana's

poetry and prose have been published widely in journals and anthologies for more than thirty years. Her work is forthcoming in 5AM, Feminist Studies, and two international collections.

Among her prose books is Grace Paley’s Life Stories, A Literary Biography; her newest book is the poetry collection What if your mother (2005, Chicory Blue Press).

A longtime teacher of literature, writing and women’s studies, Judith has taught in high schools, colleges, libraries, living rooms, a prison and a jail. She is an activist for reproductive justice and conscious motherhood, working often with campus and community groups in North America.

Native to the Great Lakes region, she lives now in the Pacific Northwest.


—Back to Poetry Contents—

Not Like That

I never once ever have dreamed I was
flying, swooping over the city, out
on the prairie, through thin clouds
over a silent silver glacier; I never
drifted into a glide along the river,
never rose like a hawk on the updraft.
The dream I have too many times is
not like that.
                              I lock it, but the door
wont stay. I shut and latch and bolt
and put a bar across it. I test the bar,
walk away. The door swoops free
without a sound and I turn back
to see it gaping open. I dream
of steel, vault-thick. My skin
freezes to the massive iron door
as I lean in to close it: slowly, fully.
I dream the combination, spin
the huge wheel like a hubcap.
The lock stops, the tumblers
drop into place. And the door
opens. The great door drifts open.


The Elders Repeat Themselves

The condition of youth
is ignorance: they cannot
learn from us; they have to
bleed and gasp and weep.
Why tell them anything?
Why clutch their shoulders
pierce their eyes with ours
to fiercely whisper
all the burning years
into their open faces?
Given what we know
how can we tell them
what we say is true?