*first published by Trampoline, A Journal of Poetry


I thought the phrase was
“dull as dishwater,”
and it made sense
during my turn
to clean up after the Sabbath meal,
rinsing chicken fat and beet blood
from seven plates,
turning the sink water bleak
as a Wisconsin winter sky,
darkened further by the dregs
of concord Manischewitz
from crystal shot glasses,
allowed even this eleven-year-old
the sweet swallow
of sudden warmth
that would, years later,
come looking for me.


The moment dinner ended,
my older sister and brother bolted
out the back door toward
lives I didn’t yet know
how to imagine, but understood
to be far more interesting than mine.
I dried and put away dishes
as the candles sputtered, my parents
somewhere, never quite there.


At sixty-one, I learned
it’s “dull as ditchwater,
and once I pictured it,
that made sense too, but
it stole something from me:
the poetry I had made of
leftovers and loneliness,
and the yearning for a life
I still don’t know how to imagine.

About the Author

Lynn Glicklich Cohen has been published in Amelia, Evening Street Review, Front Range Review, Oberon Poetry Magazine, Peregrine, St. Katharine Review, and Trampoline. Her novel, A Terrible Case of Beauty, was published by Trebol Press in 2013. Lynn has attended various writing conferences, including the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Columbia University Summer Writers’ Workshop. After a brief tenure in the Jerusalem Symphony Radio Orchestra, Lynn received a Bachelors in Music from the New England Conservatory of Music, concentrating in double bass performance. She received a Master of Social Work from Simmons College in Boston and practiced as a clinical social worker for several years in Boston and Baltimore. She then moved to Vermont and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston.