Myra Sklarew

Scars of Last Year’s Leaves

Volume 16:1, Winter 2015
The Sonnet Issue

Scars of Last Year’s Leaves

What has become of my body? Have I left it
in the mirror with a pale yellow bird
who trembles on a naked branch of the Judas tree—
the red-bud Theophrastus once called kerkis,

its pods shaped like a weaver’s shuttle.
He who taught us about sensation and its next
of kin—stone. While the ancient one ruminates
on the Causes of Plants, on Water, Fire, and the Sea,

I go on looking for my legs which I left in the mirror.
They no longer remember how to walk. Whose face
suddenly stares back at me? Was it tomorrow you stood
there waiting for me to catch up? Or yesterday’s crevasse,

a fissure I once occupied? What more to say? How you
remind me of touch? How your lips still sing on my skin.


Reprinted from If You Want to Live Forever, Winterhawk Press, 2012, with permission from the author.


Myra Sklarew was educated at Tufts University and the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. She studied at Cold Spring Harbor Biological Laboratory with Salvador Luria and Max Delbruck and conducted research in frontal lobe function of Rhesus monkeys at Yale University School of Medicine. She is the author of 17 collections of poetry, fiction and essays including Invitation to a Country Called Aging (co-written with Patricia Garfinkel, Politics & Prose Books, 2018), Harmless (Mayapple Press, 2010), The Witness Trees (Cornwall Books U.S./London/Dora Teitelboim Center for Yiddish Culture, 2000, reprinted 2007), Lithuania: New & Selected Poems (Azul Editions, 1995), and the forthcoming A Survivor Named Trauma: Holocaust Memory in Lithuania (SUNY University Press). Awards include the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award and the National Jewish Book Council Award in Poetry for From the Backyard of the Diaspora (Dryad Press, 1981). She is the former president of the Yaddo Artist Community and professor emerita in the Department of Literature, American University. To read more by this author: Five poems, Winter 2004, Whitman Issue, Myra Sklarew on May Miller: Memorial Issue, and Myra Sklarew on Leon-Gontran Damas: Forebears Issue