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On Faith

  • How do people stay true to each other?
  • When I think of my parents all those years 
  • in the unmade bed of their marriage, not ever
  • longing for anything else — or: no, they must
  • have longed; there must have been flickerings, 
  • stray desires, nights she turned from him,
  • sleepless, and wept; nights he rose silently,
  • smoked in the dark; nights that nest of breath 
  • and tangled limbs must have seemed 
  • like it wasn’t enough. But it was. Or they just
  • held on. A gift, perhaps, I’ve tossed out,
  • having been always too willing to fly
  • to the next love, the next and the next, certain
  • nothing was really mine, certain nothing 
  • would ever last. So faith hits me late, if at all; 
  • faith that this latest love won’t end, or ends
  • in the shapeless sleep of death. But faith is hard.
  • When he turns his back to me now, I think:
  • disappear. I think: not what I want. I think 
  • of my mother lying awake in those arms 
  • that could crush her. That could have. Did not.

Cecilia Woloch is an NEA fellowship recipient and the author of six collections of poems, most recently Carpathia (BOA Editions, 2009) and Tzigane, le poème Gitan (Scribe-l’Harmattan, 2014), the French translation of her second book, Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem. A novella, Sur la Route, is forthcoming from Quale Press in 2015, as is a chapbook of new poems, Earth, awarded the Two Sylvias Press Prize. The founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild and the Paris Poetry Workshop, she has also served on the faculties of a number of creative-writing programs and teaches independently throughout the U.S. and around the world. “On Faith” is from Woloch’s collection Late (BOA Editions, 2003) and is used with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. See boaeditions.org.

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  • How do people stay true to each other?
  • When I think of my parents all those years 
  • in the unmade bed of their marriage, not ever
  • longing for anything else — or: no, they must
  • have longed; there must have been flickerings, 
  • stray desires, nights she turned from him,
  • sleepless, and wept; nights he rose silently,
  • smoked in the dark; nights that nest of breath 
  • and tangled limbs must have seemed 
  • like it wasn’t enough. But it was. Or they just
  • held on. A gift, perhaps, I’ve tossed out,
  • having been always too willing to fly
  • to the next love, the next and the next, certain
  • nothing was really mine, certain nothing 
  • would ever last. So faith hits me late, if at all; 
  • faith that this latest love won’t end, or ends
  • in the shapeless sleep of death. But faith is hard.
  • When he turns his back to me now, I think:
  • disappear. I think: not what I want. I think 
  • of my mother lying awake in those arms 
  • that could crush her. That could have. Did not.

Cecilia Woloch is an NEA fellowship recipient and the author of six collections of poems, most recently Carpathia (BOA Editions, 2009) and Tzigane, le poème Gitan (Scribe-l’Harmattan, 2014), the French translation of her second book, Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem. A novella, Sur la Route, is forthcoming from Quale Press in 2015, as is a chapbook of new poems, Earth, awarded the Two Sylvias Press Prize. The founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild and the Paris Poetry Workshop, she has also served on the faculties of a number of creative-writing programs and teaches independently throughout the U.S. and around the world. “On Faith” is from Woloch’s collection Late (BOA Editions, 2003) and is used with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. See boaeditions.org.

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