the-human-condition 1933
by Rafaella Del Bourgo

I imagine that
my mother, father and stepfather
find a fourth for bridge,
the newly deceased widow of a navy admiral.
They set up a card table and chairs
between the gravestones.
Visitors with their flowers walk right by,
looking down at the earth,
pausing to read the markers.

I can see the cards and
a bowl of Licorice Allsorts.
My father liked to eat that candy
filled with layers of black, white
and peppermint green.
And bone china cups of tea
which the women sip
after taking their tricks.

Creeping into the scene,
a fluffy-tailed red fox,
one shy coyote,
and even a small herd of deer
stepping out from under the trees,
and coming to lie in the sun
at my mother’s feet.

Sitting on a hill
half-hidden by wood ferns,
I am still waiting
for my turn.

PAINTING: The Human Condition by René Magritte (1933).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was surprised to have found that the pandemic and its resultant sheltering in place has not been good for my creative process. I do write, but not in any disciplined way, and have found that I mostly want to amuse myself with jigsaw and crossword puzzles, reading very long articles in The New Yorker, and going for walks down at the Berkeley Marina, where I encounter flocks of wild turkeys and dogs in jeans jackets appliquied with pink and blue flowers. Sometimes I hear something or see something that inspires me to write, but that happens less frequently than it used to. I’m hoping that as the news becomes less oppressive, that I will find renewed ambition to write.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rafaella Del Bourgo’s writing has appeared in journals such as Nimrod, The Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, The Adroit Journal, The Green Hills Literary Lantern, Caveat Lector, Puerto Del Sol, Rattle, Oberon, Spillway, and The Bitter Oleander. She has won many awards, including the Lullwater Prize for Poetry in 2003, and in 2006 the Helen Pappas Prize in Poetry and the New River Poets Award. In 2007, 2008, and 2013, she won first place in the Maggi Meyer Poetry Competition. The League of Minnesota Poets awarded her first place in 2009.  In 2010, she won the Alan Ginsberg Poetry Award and the Grandmother Earth Poetry Prize. She was awarded the Paumanok Prize for Poetry in 2012, and then won first place in the 2013 Northern Colorado Writers’ Poetry Contest. Finally, she won the Mudfish Poetry Prize for 2017. Her collection I Am Not Kissing You  was published by Small Poetry Press in 2003, and her chapbook, Inexplicable Business: Poems Domestic and Wild, was published in 2014 by Finishing Line Press. In 2012, she was one of 10 poets included in the anthology Chapter & Verse: Poems of Jewish Identity. She has traveled the world and lived in Tasmania and Hawaii.  She recently retired from teaching college-level English classes, and resides in Berkeley, California, with her husband and one spoiled cat.