Linda Lerner

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 Far-Out: When Choice Was Ours
          For Hillary Keel

“I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over”
(from Birches by Robert Frost)

 Far out they used to say when
I was a girl, about someone who looked like
A neighbor I see talking to someone
I don’t see, smiling moon lit sun flowers 
Growing in an area of Lewis Carroll’s imagination,
where I’d wanted to get to with whatever 
pill could transport me, not deal
with getting a job, bills piling up 
with the laundry; now decades later
think of another woman I know
told she only had A few months to live
who’d give anything never to leave this earth; 

back then, thought only about the going
not the getting back,
of choice taken from us 

The life line 

Driving a 1959 white Ford convertible past news
when gasoline powered cars will no longer be sold
never reaches you, on the road for 80-decade miles
me sitting beside you, and if there were hints
didn’t matter, as long as your baby could move, 
the top down, my wind-blown hair tangling with 
people’s cheers, James Dean’s ghost driving 
imaginations, applauding what survived an era;

you fought like hell not to get off that road,
expenses mounting, repairs needed,
hard to find someone who could fix
classic cars, a friend said, “sell,”
doctors said, it’s time, and when it was, 
in a deep sleep, tied to wires
your strong heart kept on beating 

to be behind the wheel driving that car, 
I needed you here to keep from 
swerving off the road

Linda Lerner’s latest collection, Taking the F Train (NYQ Books, 2021) has been chosen as a finalist in the 2022 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her poems currently appear in, Maintenance, Gargoyle, Big City Lit, One Art, Shot Glass Journal, NYC from the Inside (poetry anthology, 2022) And Great Weather of Media (anthology) Arriving at a Shoreline.