Elizabeth Poreba


I’m made of words mostly.
The rest is thin.

Words hold me up
like bones beneath the skin.

The thought of a soul within
is mute or moot

and slides in a vowel shift
from silent to irrelevant.

Perhaps such accidents
of sound are not mere

motions of the tongue.
I ponder them as seers once

studied fissures in burned bone.


That night, we got up every hour
to see the Perseid shower, clearest it had been
in years — not that we had ever looked before,
but this was an event we wanted to witness, as if
being outside in the dark, breathing synched
to those starry descents, would make us participants.

Finally, the sky revealed a few, dim stars.
We put on mud boots and blundered out
in bathrobes. We found a level place to stand,
which scent revealed to be a bed of thyme.
After a while, necks craning, we gazed
long enough to see stars between stars,
but none of them moving. I didn’t care;
I hadn’t really felt like going out —
the Perseids were something I knew about,
like the Eiffel Tower. You visit just
to make sure it matches the postcards.

Long ago, on Cedar Island, in a sleeping bag
that reeked of old canvas, reclining on lumpy sand,
I saw stars shoot straight all over the sky,
as if to destinations. But that thought did not
occur to me at the time. No thought occurred.
At that time, I was not a tourist, the brightness
sufficed, and I belonged to it.


Elizabeth Poreba taught English in New York City high schools for 35 years . Her poems have appeared in Ducts.org, Feminist Studies in Religion, New Verse News, Written River, First Literary Review East and Commonweal, among others. She has published a chapbook, The Family Calling, (Finishing Line Press) and a collection of poems, Vexed (Wipf and Stock).