Naked Woman Listening at the Keyhole – Sophia Rivkin

Naked Woman Listening at the Keyhole – Sophia Rivkin
Naked Woman Listening at the Keyhole - Sophia Rivkin
Naked Woman Listening at Keyhole – Sophia Rivkin

Poetry. Paper, perfect bound, 44 p.
$13.95 plus s&h
2011, ISBN 978-1936419-043

Sophia Rivkin’s poetry simmers with visceral energy and surreal leaps. It is made of the dark soup of her Russian heritage, the light broth of her word play, and the sustaining whimsy of her artist’s eye. If language—in a well-chosen epigraph for the title poem—covers our nakedness, Rivkin’s lively lyrics both clothe (comfort, celebrate, ameliorate) our struggles and unwrap the hard truths within. Naked Woman Listening at the Keyhole contains comedic elements marked by Rivkin’s trademark wit and surprise, even as it reveals the unerring heart of a poet who can take “the terrible kick to the chest”—from the horror of Babi Yar to unimaginable personal loss. In this book, Rivkin looks closely and deeply into the everyday events and memories of a woman’s life, calmly buttonholing readers to invite us in and help us see.

At the Window
by Sophia Rivkin

This is a poem for women
who stand at the window
and look out into
brick walls at sunset
empty small town streets,
single railroad tracks
near a deserted seaside house
gas stations with one pump,
a man in dirty overalls
under a red blinking sign ‘Gasoline’
motel lobbies with a sagging plastic couch,
a coffee pot with dregs, a dying ivy
a picture window of—yes—again
an empty road.
I am talking Hopper paintings,
but I am talking the peculiar melancholy
of motel rooms with burnt holes in razor sharp
worn gray carpeting, a nasty scratch
on the bathroom door,
twin paintings of twin sunsets on plastic panelled walls.
I slept in such a room,
a mounted deer head over the bed
and all night he cried soft tears
from his big glass eyes
And all the watchers at the window,
Sister Carrie, Tolstoy’s Anna,
Hopper’s wife Jo, or the woman
who drowned her five children,
all these women slept here
in defoliated isolation listening
to the quiet trickle
of motherless grass growing
outside the door
before they said goodbye
to the single light bulb in the bathroom
and the deer head over the bed,
the deer who blessed them with his tears.

Sophia Rivkin has recently published in MacGuffin, RATTLE, Diner, Comstock Review, Garfield Review, and Passager. She is a three time winner in the poetry competition from Springfed Arts. She published a chapbook The Valise (Mayapple Press) in 2008. Her work has also appeared in Poet Lore, Blue Unicorn, Driftwood Review, Free Lunch, Third Wednesday and others.