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The Valise -Sophia Rivkin

The Valise -Sophia Rivkin
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The Valise -Sophia Rivkin
Poetry. Paper, perfect bound, 38 pp.
$12.95 plus s&h
2008, ISBN 978-0932412-720

Rivkin’s keen and unblinking eye, great verbal energy, and wry wisdom confront her subjects with continuous, genuine surprise.


My Mother’s Lace Curtains
by Sophia Rivkin

My Mother grew with a pitchfork in her heart—
something planted by the Russian peasants.
Surrounded by enemies, she became an enemy,
fought daily battles with my father.

They fought over money.
Bread and knives flew in the kitchen
They didn’t sleep together. She slept with us,
two kids and a mother in one small bed.

They fought like cats and dogs,
but I know cats and dogs who live together amiably.
They fought in the upstairs flat, windows wide open,
so all the neighbor ladies could hear
through their starched lace curtains.

We were there somewhere—
you could not escape—screams like black birds
flying inside the house, then out the holes
of our own starched lace.

After a terrible fight one night, police came
and dragged my father—half dead, half gassed—
from the family car.
What did they accuse him of? He acquiesced.

They brought him back the next morning
and the neighbors watched behind their lace curtains
and he had to serve his full punishment at home
while we, the kids, hid

and served his sentence with him.


Sophia Rivkin’s poems are love stories for the dead. She explores family relationships to help her detach and attach herself to the poems. She writes so that other readers can see such connections in their own lives. Rivkin has won awards from the Abbie M. Copps competitions at Olivet College and from MacGuffin, RATTLE, Diner, Comstock Review, and Writer’s Voice.