Melissa Ginsburg Poems




The Game


We played shooting each other

in the slow gray afternoon yard. I shot you twice

on or near the heart. We stood there, thinking.

I laid you in the back of a stolen car and drove

to a farmhouse in Iowa, a party

ensconced on the porch. People smoked

and chattered. I walked the painted boards,

cigarette smoke and hard laughter.


A nurse helped carry my husband

into the surgery front bedroom

where in a more prairied life

we’d have made love all afternoon

then staggered out to the golden dusk,

a walnut tree in the distance.


Now the chill held gold to hide behind, thinly.

It was to be the last such day and everybody knew it. 


I slept in the car all week until you walked

out to the sudden weather

holding your chest, my ugly gun.

While you were unconscious

we traded hearts and got married again

in the folding bed, I wanted to tell you.

Tissues surrounded you,

knitted themselves intently in the cold.






Summer kept me with sugared fruits

in the slow sanding. Not being stupid

I took what was offered:  shovel and droplet

threw sun back onto itself in small movable dots.

My job was waiting and I did it in the sun

with sand and mirrors, a glitter around me

while I paced. I waited, I fell in love with waiting

covered in jewels washed in from the sea.

The ground was made of softened glass. I

threw the sun back; I was in love

with the broken space. Yet the sea

never cared for me, took what it wanted.

Shiny shells, dead crops, mother-of-pearl.

I didn’t care, I was happy not to have them.

once emptied the world became seasons

and made sudden room for me.






Melissa Ginsburg attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop where she was recipient

of the Iowa Arts Fellowship.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in

Gulf Coast, Pleiades, and Crowd.  She lives in Iowa City and works in a

calendar factory.





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