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Winter 2002, Volume 19.2


Photo of Nancy Takacs.

Nancy Takacs

Nancy Takacs received an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. Her poems have recently appeared in Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Karamu, Cimarron Review, and Poet Lore. She is the winner of the full-length book of poetry category of the 2000 Utah Arts Council writing contest. Her chapbook Pale Blue Wings is scheduled to appear in spring 2002 from Limberlost Press. One of her poems has also been nominated for this year's Pushcart Prize.


Jewelry Box

No one can have enough, she said.
Her drawer tangoed in a seaweed
of turquoise, silver-rain, chokers
of Polish amber, jet, chains
globbed with those tiny knots
my dead aunt never straightened out.

I go out to the garden wearing
her thick gold rope that must have
lain just so, on her perfect collarbone.
She held it up once, told me
she paid a lot for it, and it
would one day be mine.

I've untied others, wear a leather
strand, and its "Proceed
with Caution" pendant; the silver-
and-coral-hishi; black pearls
she bought in Majorca. I
saw her wear all of these.

My aunt never married. She
and her beauty went everywhere,
though she was afraid everywhere:
of insects, of night, of men, always
afraid she was doing wrong things.
She never did a wrong thing.

I remember her loving these rings:
the semi-precious, not sapphires
but southwest silvers, inlaid.
She wore them on her forefingers,
too, never making a point. My aunt
who loved all of us, and couldn't
tell us who she was.


The Old Tree and the New Tree

a birthday poem

The old tree's pure white,
utterly fragrant.
When I walk
between it and the new tree, which is not much
younger, there are breaths coming
from both of them
on my shoulders, my neck.

The new tree
has smaller blossoms, they're
barely pink, almost flesh-colored,

But when I walk out
in the morning
the air is full of flowers.

By afternoon
things are moving, the wind,
the bees.

For four days I love the blossoms
of the old tree and the new tree.

One will have crabapples, the other apples.
One I'll make crimson jelly from,
the other I won't.



It was built in the 20's,
our building made of railroad ties.
It was once a rabbit barn
our ex-landlord Morris told us.

And Morris himself,
kind Morris,
had to sell the rabbits,
walking our dirt road
with a few at a time, that he held.
Then he pierced them, skinned them,
gutted them, while wives
went to get their coins.

He shook his head
when he told us,
said it had to be done to survive,
not much you could do
in this desert back then,
but the blood on his hands
was incredible.

On this spring evening,
our crabapple
pure white
against the dark barn, I walk in
for asylum, clean my potting bench
of last year's lavender.

I think of Morris strong and young,
how the soft skins felt to him,
cage after cage of what multiplied
so quickly, the cries
he kept in his own throat
with the coins in his pocket,
not keeping any part of it
for luck.

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