Anne Becker


    It was the perfect summer day.  The air touched her cool skin with warm and cool fingers, just as it fingered the leaves⎯of the cork-screw willow that let speckled light into the room⎯of the farther auburn maple branches which bobbed like arms with out-stretched feathery hands caressing the skin of the air.  Everything rounded like that, turned and gave back what it took.  Beyond the tops of the trees, the silver-blue billowed clouds, immense, delicate⎯not boats⎯edifices⎯towed the pale sky washed with sun in their wake.  This reciprocity, she thought, this is summer.  This perfect balance between heat and cool, between movement and stasis, every thing moving stopped as if at perfect noon.  Why should the day continue to advance toward night?  When it could stand here, absorb the slow, thick amber light and grow minutely bigger?  As the heart learns to, to absorb all of life’s batterings and continue to beat, beat, beat; clench and relax, clench and relax as the lungs empty and fill, empty and fill.  As she wished to sit in the cool dappled room, where the carpet, the rug beneath the chair, beneath the footstool padded with matted fleece, bloomed⎯red, black, green, rose, ivory, gray, olive, pink, maroon, lime, moss⎯between the dabs of gold and dusky light.  As she wished to sit unmoving, except the slight rocking that started in her heels pressed down into the sheepskin and continued up through calf, thigh, hip, back, neck, so that the head nodded imperceptibly yes, yes, yes.  Agreeing to this⎯all this⎯this light, this air, this ceaseless moving unmoving⎯stopped time⎯this abeyance of hunger.  

FALL, 2001

What we love in common⎯the autumn light.
Its particulate waves caught in the warp of air,
suspended in the hush between breath and breath,
a soft gauzy fabric to wrap our fears.
All around us the leaves die back, wither,
curl, set their blunt orange hooks in the clear blue air;
tapestry our eyes gulp in, life’s wild thirst.
Plum dots of beauty-berry, cross stitched,
stipple a lime-green ground, dissolve in distance;
weave and flicker of wing and feather
nut-brown, cream, carmine, black, olive, heather.
In the shrill music of cicadas, of
the crickets, day ticks its final minutes,
dusk shrugs off its shawl of lavender light.


Eleven⎯the year I perfected my
writing, chose a number three pencil,
having the hardest lead, honed to the
sharpest point, barely a dot; sure
curled fingers guided the shaft, little
movements of the lips and tongue,
dilation of nostrils with each
breath as my hand slid over and
over the paper’s smooth cheek, ruled
with faintest blue veins, leaving tracks

of ghost words,       ghost letters,       phantom
silence        gray              gray   white       a
blizzard of silence                        Ten years ago
the dazzling invisible glowed
in my mother’s huge closet where she saved
her children’s work.  Today, I only
imagine those perfect

empty pages⎯blank⎯like
my body was blank.


I'm inside hiding from green life⎯
scared to be out in it, new leaves
sprouting all over my body⎯from the shoulder
blades like wings, like a bower at the kneecap.
Everywhere out the window the green glows
fueled by the sun.  It frightens me this
burning⎯that I might consume myself,
like trees, a short flowering, then withering,
drying.  Gold tissue banners all winter
on the beeches, their trunks smooth, silver,
as if dead.  Of course, they are
not, they survive winter clad in their
old clothes, shivering, whispering
amongst themselves, gossiping⎯I'd hazard⎯
about the arrival of reinforcements of light,
the day lengthens like shadows,
the earth breathing its gases, warmed
air, how soon it will come this year,
tears of the drenchblue clouds, of the violet
sky; will it be enough sorrow to rekindle
the branches to the smallest twig⎯
enough joining of tender skin and free
air, to burn, to go on burning all
summer to be dropped and gathered
in the fall⎯       corpses of living joy.

Anne Becker
Anne Becker's poems have appeared in Antioch Review, Southern Poetry Review, Washington Jewish Week, Gargoyle, Washington Review, and elsewhere. She earned an M.A. from the Writing Seminars, Johns Hopkins University. She won the Maryland Heritage Poetry Award in 1984 and has received a Fellowship in Poetry from the Maryland State Arts Council. Her collection, The Transmutation Notebooks: Poems in the Voices of Charles and Emma Darwin (Forest Woods Media, 1996) was completed with a MSAC work-in-progress grant. Ms. Becker serves in the Maryland Poets-in-the-Schools program, teaches creative writing at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, provides poetry tutorials, and conducts a special poetry workshop, Writing the Body, for those who have experience with life-threatening or chronic illness. Following her interest in teaching across disciplines, she has presented a workshop at the Corcoran School of Art on the use of language for the visual artist, read and lectured at the University of Connecticut for a course on the nature of scientific thought and at the Corcoran for classes on the history of science and technology. For many years, she served as Senior Producer of Watershed Tapes, which include those of poets such as Ruth Stone, William Carlos Williams, Jean Valentine, Czeslaw Milosz, and Joseph Brodsky.



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Deborah Ager

Karren Alenier

John Allman

Anne Becker

Mel Belin

Bruce Bennett

Doraine Bennett

Cliff Bernier

Doris Brody

Trina Carter

Grace Cavalieri

Norma Chapman

Maritza Rivera Cohen

Yoko Danno

Barbara DeCesare

Donna Denizé

Julie Enszer

Colin Flanigan

Roger Fogelman

Martin Galvin

Barbara Goldberg

JoAnne Growney

Sarita Hartz

James C. Hopkins

John Hoppenthaler

Laurie Hurvitz

Donald Illich

W. Luther Jett

J. Ladin

Diane Lockward

Jason Maffettone

Judith McCombs

Louis McKee

Larry Moffi

Miles David Moore

Yvette Neisser

Brent Pallas

Lee Patton

Hilary Tham

Rosemary Winslow

Kathi Wolfe

Ernie Wormwood










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