Noticing Women

I am not the woman in the front row staring with adoring eyes at the poet,
her husband, on the stage behind the podium, reading from his collection.

Nor am I the woman standing behind a different podium articulating
brilliantly constructed ideas about the mysteries and interconnections
between fiction writing, exploration of the self and Zen Buddhism.

Neither am I the small dark eyed woman darting through the streets
furtively snapping pictures of random passersby and posting them
on Facebook with simple notes about how she is feeling hungry,
frustrated, confused, angry, misunderstood, very nervous or tired.

I study these woman who are not me
as they pass by my view this week.
Each one is worth my attention.

Spirits Can Be Free

You call my friend a free spirit.
Was it what she wore?
Flair skirt, tunic top with colored straps
showing through from underneath.
Was it the width of her smile,
the hug she gave you before
any introductions? Or was it
because I bought her a week’s worth
of groceries at the organic food market?
You admire my generous nature
at the same time you think of it as foolish.

It wasn’t meant as a compliment
when you called her a fee spirit.
It made me think of Tinker Bell
It made me think my friend might fly off
the face of the earth one day, lifted
high on a friendly wind, her skirt billowing.

The paintings on the walls of her rooms
brightened the day for me,

They came from her vision, her hand.
I put the groceries in her refrigerator
then curled up by a stripped pillow
on her couch to watch her paint.

You called her a free spirit because
she had no money for groceries.
You would have preferred her to wear
a minimum wage uniform serving hours
for dollars so she could afford her own food.

I consider your words an honor to her.
I like the airy sound of a free spirit.
There’s joy in knowing a spirit can be free.

Something About Magic

Talisman? I have many.
My father’s rabbit’s foot.
It’s blue, smells like cigarettes.

When my father died, money
just fell down on me like magic.
In his room, after he died I found:
a duffle bag filled with quarters,
a bank book with my name on it,
insurance policy dedicated to me,
checks endorsed, ready to cash.

Like magic, now
money comes to me
whenever I need some.
His legacy, his gift.

He was a poor man,
lived in one room,
drove a taxi,
played the horses.
He was a drifter,
a deserter, an unavailable
stone of a father.

I found a package of sliced turkey,
a bag of green grapes, a large Hershey Bar,
and a container of fresh squeezed orange juice
on the window sill in his room after he died

I wrap myself in my father’s
red, plaid flannel shirt when
I am lonely, chilly, or hungry.
It’s what I wear when I need
a magical flash to break the monotony.

I am a believer in magic,
flashes of insight,
flickers of feeling,
very yellow flowers
bursting into bloom.

There’s something
I could tell you
about magic.
I learned it
from my father.

Not Everybody Gets a Book

Overheard at the library:
“Not everybody gets a book
written about them.”
I think that’s true.

Some people only get a poem
or maybe just a phrase, few words.
like a motto. For my father it was
“you win some, you lose some
and some are rained out.”
On a rainy the day, I was born.

Some people may only get a word,
or a letter, or even just a sound.
Oy vey, yikes or oops
might be your defining slogan.

For me, life unfolds in chapters,
episodes of great interest.
Someone said my writing was
self-indulgent. Who shall I indulge
if not myself? I give to the world
from the depths of my being
in return, I write myself a book.
A gift to myself, luxuriating
in the sound and texture of words.

I Jumped

Never learned to dive
but I jumped in the water
from the side of the pool.
Big splash going down.
Big smile popping up.
Never head first,
had my limits,
gave into my fears.
Yet I jumped in the water
from the side of the pool
with a resounding splash,
fearlessness of spirit, confident
in my feet first immersion.
Trusting I’d bounce up,
out of the water, light,
gleaming in the sun

Madlynn Haber is a retired social worker and writer living in Northampton, Massachusetts.  Her work has been published in the anthology Letters to Fathers from Daughters, in Anchor Magazine, Exit 13 Magazine and on websites including: A Gathering of the Tribes, The Voices Project, The Jewish Writing Project, Quail Bell Magazine, Mused Literary Review, Hevria, Right Hand Pointing, Mothers Always Write, Mum Life Stories, Random Sample and Club Plum Literary Journal. You can view her work at