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Greg Nicholl, “Moments Lifted”

Greg Nicholl, “Moments Lifted”

Author: Poetry Editor

March 24, 2011

Today we’re pleased to feature two poems by Greg Nicholl.


The child on the Upper West Side
has your hair, my freckled skin.

He stands there on the wrong sidewalk
his hand gripped by the wrong father.

And I, paralyzed at the curb,
do nothing to stop him.

Just yesterday he looked up at me
from across the kitchen table,

appearing, even, in the rearview mirror
as I drive you to work—

drool soaked thumb,
stuffed bear tucked under his chin.

The simple things haunt me:
climbing from the tub, hair

trailing streams of soapy water
as he disappears in the towel I hold open.

I clutch these scenes in passing, moments
lifted from the comfort of strollers

so that when we make love
I imagine I have a womb,

that incomprehensible pear-shaped hole
for you to enter and pull from its depths

the son we will never have.


Brian came home late, found me
curled on the sofa in darkness,
could smell the subtle aftermath
of something burnt. When he asked
what was wrong, I didn’t respond.
I couldn’t explain how,
as I was mixing the dough,
I imagined two faces
standing eye level to the counter.
How I offered each child a taste
and watched them clean the spoon.
I couldn’t explain how the vision shifted
as lights of a passing ambulance
flashed through the window
and I pictured them asleep at dawn,
whispering to wake them;
how one refused—his chest silent.
I couldn’t explain.


GREG NICHOLL lives in Baltimore and is an assistant editor at the John Hopkins University Press. His poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Booth, Boulevard, Crab Creek Review, The Gay & Lesbian Review, Salamander, and elsewhere.

“Moments Lifted” was first appeared in the April 2005 issue of Feminist Studies. “Twins: A Vision” was first published in a 2006 issue of Natural Bridge. Both appear here with permission.

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About: Poetry Editor

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