Three Poems by Donna Fleischer

Merrill’s Question

Can you watch a sparrow fall?

Egg or no egg fertilized
the wolf spider wholly

generates her self holier
than any sacrament

advances the air invisible
leg over leg, gathers helixical

space enough, life enough
even as descent

now surely evident advances
when she knows to gather

her coat about her neck
try something



To Be a Man


If only you had been a man,
I wonder if you wondered

As your head lay on your arms upon the kitchen table
When the rest of us were upstairs in our beds

For I had stepped softly down the stair,
poked my head between banister uprights

and watched you for a long long time
to make sure you were not dead


If only you had been a man,

I wonder if you wondered

Then you could have your whiskey,
your cigarette, your divorce, without reproach

And as I, your daughter, stay with you in this way
So as not to be lonely and alone like that

I secretly grow a wish
to be a man for you

And learn how to kiss you all over
With just my eyes, my breath


Phil’s Song

He tells me that he tells himself
the same story at the end of each work day
that he will go home for supper.

Says he wonders how the fetus knows that
being born is not dying, perhaps
she doesn’t. Or that dying is not being
born again and again.

         Bar-do teachings say when the dead person walks into the sun, she sees no shadow; when she looks into a mirror she sees no reflection; when she steps out of the stream she has no footprints. In this way she learns that she is dead

This is not a trick. It is a story with metaphors. The digestive system empties to make room for. The limbic system lights up the whole whizbang of

               lymph   bone   lung
              the butterfly-shape gland

              trapezius nerve fiber extension-contraction
              ovum sperm circles

              heart valves work  until   respiration or
              inspiration  don’t

              A poem writes its way to
              the heart of what
              we will not know


Donna Fleischer is the author of five poetry chapbooks, including from beyond my window: the Covid-19 Poems (Meritage Press, 2020), < Periodic Earth > (Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press, 2016), and Twinkle, Twinkle(Longhouse Publishers, 2011. Her poems are in A) Glimpse) Of)Contemporary HaibunMarsh Hawk Press Review, Naugatuck River Review, OtolithsPoets for Living WatersSpiral Orb,Stonewall’s Legacy, and elsewhere. She received the support of a Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art – Tupelo Press residency and the University of Hartford’s Creative Writing Award for Poetry. Donna earned a BA in English while a four-color process film master journey-woman in offset publications printing.