the boys you crave run mad,
not knowing that the siren call
was never meant for them;
You stitch up capes of innocence
As they whip their horses wild.
Dear girl. You sing until
Starlings split the sky.
They trill a dance of hieroglyphs
On your outstretched little finger;
Invite them to the shilly-bee
They’ll surely dance for you!
Jays tufted in royal hues and
Cardinals caped in persimmon plumes
Robin’s eggs splinter in the dew
Like bits jeweled glass,
All pay homage to the girl you were
And you lay sunstruck and bewildered
on the grass.
Things changed. She cut off her breasts
and launched her ships; she grazed with banished herds.
She joined the world and lost a world,
I know; I watched her go.
She is who I was once,
Before the days got cold.
Now, I dream of music in a different key.
When I remember what it is to be
And cherish hope of churlish loves
Whose spangled locks fly crazed aslant the wind,
I mourn the loss of all those things: of birds and boys,
The pulse of spring
And other girls
as fertile-free as I.
Ellen W. Kaplan is Professor of Acting and Directing, Co-Director of Jewish Studies at Smith College, a Fulbright Scholar (Costa Rica), and a Fulbright Senior Scholar (Hong Kong). She has performed and directed internationally: in Israel where she also taught at Tel Aviv University; in China where she directed an English language version of The Wilderness which then toured in the US and elsewhere. Other recent directing includes plays by prisoners performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Her own plays include Sarajevo Phoenix, based on interviews with women in Bosnia, which will perform in Bucharest in 2014; Soul of the City, a finalist for the Massachusetts Playwriting Fellowship (2009), and With Dream Awakened Eyes, a one-woman show based on the work of Charlotte Salomon. Her play about living in Israel during the 2nd Intifada, Pulling Apart, a finalist for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, was produced in New Haven and received a Moss Hart Award. She is working on a new play, The Time That’s Left Us, about inmates on death row, and Livy in the Garden, a play which she began this summer at the renowned Sewanee Writers’ Conference.