The Only Man in the Poetry Group

by Joel Moskowitz

A funny thing, my poetry group,
a handful of literary women and me,
as we caught up before the free-write,
it came out that three of them had had abdominal crises
since our previous meeting.
Did the writing life have something to do with it?

Pain was so severe,
one poet thought she would die, or wanted to,
and another actually did find herself
in that old cemetery on Pantry Lane, past midnight,
on the way to the ER, in a broken-down car.
And her husband, a scientist who reads all her poetry,
was running down the dark lane,
waving his hands.

Then Linda––
tall gray Linda who wears shades even indoors,
visits her grandchildren on the other side of America,
lives on the shore of Lake Cochituate, which she calls her lake––
spoke in a calm voice about an extraordinary ache
which turned out to be her gallbladder.

I wondered what to make of it, as a poet and as a man.
I, the youngest in the group, counted on them
for words beyond my reach,
for parts I cannot complete,
and wanted to ask them
why we must lean toward suffering.


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