her body at thirty
bends toward
the certainty of disaster
like a plant urgent for light

planning dinner she
imagines the raw slice of the knife
through her finger
the whirling trip to the emergency room

in the evenings she
sits by the window alert
for the murderers
who cross her backyard

she has even—
married just two months today—
pictured herself a widow
in this house

where she populates each room
with dangers
the way children of hunger fill
their cupboards with food

and still she fashions each day
as if it must be a lifeboat,
as if today might be
good enough to last.

KAREN MITTELMAN'S poetry and essays have appeared in The Comstock Review, Red River Review, Mothering magazine, Kerem: A Journal of Jewish Spirituality, and other national journals. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2002. Her novel, Force of Nature, recently won second prize for literary fiction in a nationwide novel competition sponsored by the Maryland Writers’ Association.