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  Poetry by Marsha Pomerantz

Tortoise Shell on a Windowsill

Wellfleet, Cape Cod

The inhabitant is out, apparently
gouged. Now we can study pure
shelter. Waxy chitin, regular ridges,

brown-and-yellow fields pressing past
their boundaries on a hillside. Arching
horn inspired Song ceramics and later

eyeglass frames looking little like
this helmet for the heart and gut
that a laggard engineered to surmount

himself. Cobwebs and dust, spiders and
mites squat here. Spine inside, vestigial or
provisional, lathed into a fragile, bitten bone.

In my hand the undershell clacks against
the hill's insides, like the cover on
the plastic cup that housed my grandmother's

teeth. Some housing is intrinsic: you
secrete a home and hope for space enough
to turn in, for love to clack against your wall

so you can say, Come in, I'll just
slide my tectonic plate aside
quaking. Myself, I'm renting here.


Marsha Pomerantz has recently had poems in Parnassus: Poetry in Review 25 and 27 and an essay in Harvard Review fall 2002. She translates fiction from Hebrew, works as an editor at the Harvard University Art Museums, and is a slow but assiduous swimmer.

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