Poems by Deborah Leipziger 2018

Deborah LeipzigerDEBORAH LEIPZIGER is an author, poet, and professor. Her chapbook, Flower Map, was published by Finishing Line Press (2013).  In 2014, her poem “Written on Skin” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger is the author of several books on human rights and sustainability. Her poems have been published in SalamanderVoices IsraelPOESYWilderness House ReviewIbbetson Street, and the Muddy River Poetry Review. http://flowermap.net/


For so long
I have held on so tightly.

Now I hold all the possibilities
of farewell.

I wish farewell to winter,
and welcome the geese returning.

I release the poems,
erase the messages.

I teach my daughters to leave.


“I’m beginning to know myself. I don’t exist.”
— Fernando Pessoa

Each day I make myself anew.
Today I am quiet.

Each person I meet changes me.
Each word I ponder over
Makes its way into my bloodstream.
Each day I exist myself into being.

Ode to the full moon rising

Over the April night you preside

Rising smoky over the Charles River

Having absorbed the light of the magnolias opening

You carry the white of the sails

Into the night  


From the opening in my tent I see the constellations,
the smokiness of the Milky Way. I see the great distances
of my journey. This tapestry scrolls expansive
its weft and warp tessellating.

Cassiopeia: I see your Heart Nebula, your Soul
Nebula, 100 light years across. I see your White Rose
Cluster. I find your daughter Andromeda’s galaxy.

I follow this path of stars,
until I am the map, constellating.

Paint your house bright —

deep coral

daffodil yellow

swimming pool blue,

so that when I venture out to sea




The end of the ending

Please return
the paintings
I let you
the one from
my aunt
who has since
passed away

Give me back
the aleph
— the symbol
of beginningness


Why is it harder sometimes to receive
than to give?

How does the felled tree
still blossom?

How does the storm-tossed branch
in the tree
from which it was severed?

Is there generosity in receiving?


My me and your you
So alike, so alien
Two chemicals unable to combine

Something toxic in their introduction
Yet mesmerizing

There was never an us

Giving it Away

We’re in Central Park, at a rally for disarmament.
The year is 1982. Keith Haring is giving away posters.
Black and white. A baby in a mushroom cloud.
He gives away 20,000 posters, despite having little to live on.

Perhaps this is what it means to be an artist, to be an activist
to be in love with a world still becoming:
To be generous
To give it away

Islands of Salt

Near the crest
of the Andes
a salt crust
touches the horizon –
still it rests.

The blue lake limpid,
Flamingoes breed here
in the Salar de Uyuni,

Enveloped by mountains,
in this corner

Ode to a Golden Beet

I peel it
hot from the oven
revealing a sunset of crimson red
setting in golden yellow

Lines like pathways —
on this tiny

After the Storm

I inspect the damage

The daffodils have survived
Even their onion skin layer is intact

The bluebells still ring
Tulips blazing

The wind and cold did not stop the azalea–
Only the forsythia is ragged
Its color fading.

Spring seems unstoppable

Darwin’s Orchid

We evolve together
in the way of orchids
and their pollinators –

Bats, bees, moths,
each in the dance
of co-evolution.

Darwin wondered:
Why were there night-blooming

appear, at night.

The orchid’s pollinia–
a circle of pollen —
a certain pollinator.

On the Isle of Reunion
the bee orchid lures male
The orchid’s iridescent
wing patterns
resemble the female bee
and create allomones—
which mimic the scent
of female bees.

Darwin wondered:
How could the star shaped orchid
with a nectary a foot long
be pollinated.
By whom?

One hundred and fifty years later
an answer is found:

the hawkmoth, reaches into the white
of the orchid.

A Poem for Isabella

Hang the nasturtium from the halls
Let it cascade into the courtyard

Its tangerine blossoms

Let the green leaves fall
Like Rapunzel’s hair

Let it be lovely

Water drops in pools
creating pearls in the cave
in Lechuguilla


I live in the liminal
In the space between stanzas
Between sleeping and waking
In the interregnum between dreams

I live in the becoming
In beginningness

From the center
of the reservoir
the cormorant speaks to me:

“From the stillness
Speak your truth.”

The faces of morning

Yours are the faces of morning
entering my room
waking me to the day

Breakfast together
pink grapefruit
Love Crunch
hair still wet

I pause to watch you
descending the stairs
crossing our street

We face the morning

My Day, Your Night

the sun of my day
in your

Will the
waves from my ocean
your desert?

the colors of my prism
your dark life?


the seaweed from your ocean

the ice storm of your galaxy

Will the
stars of your night

Welcome silence
gently descending
like a curtain

Welcome quiet
engulfing me
in waves

Welcome solitude
bathing me
in serenity

Welcome stars


her body spills purple 



amidst the glare
she regains her flame 

enveloped in a cloud of words, 
a murmuring of swallows,

the universe moves through her


Three strands of pearls adorn her neck
A dress of blue, velvet
A gentle face atop a long neck
Greets me

Framed in ivory
She has travelled with me
From Rio, to Philadelphia and London
To the Hague and Boston

My great grandmother Valeska
Watching me, watch her
Our eyes lock
She, a mother of three daughters

I, a mother of three girls
Who resemble her

Will my great granddaughters wonder about me?

Will they find this poem?

The thing about blue bells

Is that they come
upon you
a shady patch of the hill,
sweeps downward
and there they are
half obscured
a carpet of cobalt blue,
lavender if there is sun.

I recall my first view
of blue bells,
as our friendship.

What I wish for is a life of beginning

Two blue jays flew
out of the flowering tree
shaking its yellow blossoms.

Oh, do not call it an empty nest,
rather — say
a tree full of new branches,
forests upon forests

In the Valley of the Moon

seven camels
carry seven of us

our caravan
pulling time
across the desert

wind carves
on the wadi


Look what the tide has brought in:
thousands of stars
until the beach is a night sky
of constellations

Just three degrees
and the ocean has cast
them out,

Engorged with ice
they summon us
like a message in a bottle,
they talk to us
from Holderness

Greet yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you count the hidden tide and travel
Back home


Open yourself to the continents
which reside in you

Embrace the colliding
the shifting and the clouding over

Greet the coral dawning
the cobalt twilighting

Bathe in the forest canopy
with its filtered beams of light, its moss

Greet the tidal,
capture the shells

Pollinate the tulips
germinating and fighting for sunlight

Shelter all that is emergent
wishing to be born

Greet yourself
each color of your prism

I know you are tired
As you count the hidden tide and travel
Back home

Greet yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you count the hidden tide and travel
Back home

Daughters: A Love Story

The first sound I hear
is you
this morning
I begin
to listen

Ark in the Field

— after Joyce Peseroff

I fill the Ark with all the seeds I can find
To make a place for germination.
The Ark calls to me
With its silences,
From which resounds the music of rain.
I can hear the nascent words
In this nest of lost things.
What needs to emerge
Will appear.