Nox Oculis

Barbara F. (Freedgood) Lefcowitz (1935- )

Barbara F. Lefcowitz a publié sept recueils de poésie, un roman, ainsi que des poèmes, essais et histoires dans plus de 350 revues. journals. Elle est récipiendaire de plusieurs distinctions honorifiques du Maryland Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts et de la Fondation Rockefeller, parmi d'autres.

Née à New York elle vit présentement à Bethesda, au Maryland. Elle enseigne l'écriture au Anne Arundel College, voyage à travers le monde et peint.

Plusieurs de ses poèmes utilisent une imagerie astronomique, ou liée à la physique et à la neurologie, bien que jamais d'une manière technique.

Dark Matter

    The same dark matter
    that holds a galaxy's stars
    in its gravitational grip
    so they will neither collide
    nor break loose
    binds the many bodies of my life :
    the child wearing a bright wreathe of berries,
    the girl tugged by moons that draw blood,
    the saturnine young woman
    kept captive by the blue rings of ice
    that surround her days,
    who at last gives birth to the bodies of others
    tightly bound to her,
    but only so they may achieve
    sufficient light and mass
    to unbind themselves,
    seek their own place in the sky.
    And now the wanderer
    through forests, the intricate bark
    of whose trees brings forth a sap
    never suspected before; through cities
    whose signs blink lines and curves
    that favor not even the most faraway cousin
    in her family of languages.
    Though she finds her eyes nearly blinded
    by the same cosmic dust that turns sunsets red,
    she can see with utmost clarity
    the child's wreathe, the girl's moons,
    the young woman's blue rings of ice --
    the wanderer's particles, waves,
    and molecules intact
    within her body's sheathe of light
    until her dark matter
    begins to crack like old library paste,
    first the harsh words, then stiff sentences
    slipping bit by bit through the ripples
    that form as the matter recedes
    and the whole galaxy shatters,
    an explosion so fiercely hot
    the old text burns, blackens
    to dark matter
    in search of newborn stars.

    Barbara F. Lefcowitz, Weber Studies, Winter 1999 ; 16(2)


    The music is the same :
    the same papery castanets
    of October leaves
    as their dry edges meet
    in a light breeze,
    briefly touch.
    Likewise the palette :
    familiar reds and deep yellows,
    the most intense blue, as if
    an overly generous dose of cobalt
    had slipped into a glaze.
    Nor can I say the air's texture
    differs from that of a year ago :
    taut, a starched sheet
    with knife-sharp hospital corners.
    Still the furious madness of a few
    from the other side of the globe
    has so deranged the seasons
    a wintery dark
    eclipses the autumn sun,
    whose warmth I can fee
    l but cannot believe
    even as it touches my skin.

    Barbara F. Lefcowitz

Of Cells and Stars

    There are a thousand times more cells in a human body than there are bright stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

    John Gribbin

    Very late at night
    I trade places with the Milky Way,
    not by rising to the sky
    or bending the galaxy into my bed,
    but by musing how sapphires
    strung on spiral chains
    illuminate the space inside my skin
    as if a collapsed molecular cloud
    had spawned a profusion of bright blue stars
    that, like cells, daily wear out and die,
    but so rapidly replace themselves
    my inner streets and plazas never darken
    and all the bone-white buildings shine,
    as if I contained a private Greek island
    free from marauding tourists
    that replicates itself until I can no longer
    embrace it --
    which leads me to wonder
    about the possibility of malignant stars
    madly reproducing, joining to make
    enormous broods, each star,
    like each malignant cell, immortal,
    until en masse they overtake the galaxy.
    My own billions of cells
    then terrify me, make me wish I were simple
    as the Milky Way, could take my place
    in its clusters of chemicals and dust.

    Barbara F. Lefcowitz, Weber Studies, Winter 1999 ; 16(2)


    Everything that will happen
    a year from now
    has already begun its journey ;
    the seeds that will sprout into grain
    for that day's bread
    have already entered the ground ;
    the grapes have already fermented
    en route to a bottle
    that a waiter will prop in an ice bucket
    and bear to your table ;
    the bottle's molten glass has hardened
    and the water that will turn to ice
    is at this moment flowing into the reservoir
    from where it will enter
    the appropriate cylinders and ducts.
    The man who will sit at the next table
    has already turned a corner
    that will lead to another corner
    that eventually will lead to the restaurant's door ;
    he may already dream about you
    though the two of you have never met
    except, perhaps, a chance passing
    on a metro station or noonday street.
    If not already composed, the songs
    that will be played at the piano bar
    have imprinted their potential notes
    just below the threshold.
    The frontal systems that will determine
    that day's weather
    already loop through the atmosphere --
    whether bearing a Bermuda high,
    or winds so fierce
    they will uproot the grain's seedlings,
    rain so torrential it will drown
    the man who will sit at the next table.
    And the stars, the pre-determined
    patterns of stars
    destined to shine that night one year hence
    are easily visible from tonight's window --
    if we chose to forget that stars, too, collapse and die,
    that whole galaxies are borne away
    by expanding sheets of spacetime
    in cycles no one can predict
    despite precise calculation
    of how their bent rays of color
    will enter redshift or blueshift.

    Barbara F. Lefcowitz, Weber Studies, Winter 1999 ; 16(2)

Oeuvres poétiques :

  • A Risk of Green (1978)
  • The Wild Piano (1981)
  • The Queen of Lost Baggage (1986)
  • Shadows and Goatbones (1992)
  • Red Lies and White Lies (1994)
  • The Minarets of Vienna (1996)
  • A Hand of Stars (1999)
  • Politics of snow : 100 new poems (2001)

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