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About this poet

Jacqueline Osherow was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received a BA from Harvard University in 1978 and a PhD in English from Princeton University in 1990.

She is the author of several books of poetry, including Ultimatum from Paradise (Louisiana State University Press, 2014), Whitethorn (Louisiana State University Press, 2011), and Looking for Angels in New York (University of Georgia Press, 1988). Her poems are known for their frequent exploration of Jewish tradition and their post-Holocaust consciousness.

About her work, Rosanna Warren writes, “Abundant in whimsy, philosophical speculation, and earthly affections, Jacqueline Osherow’s poems inhabit their forms with insouciance and wit.”

Osherow has received the Witter Bynner Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She serves as a distinguished professor of English and creative writing at the University of Utah. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Bibliography
Ultimatum from Paradise (Louisiana State University Press, 2014)
Whitethorn (Louisiana State University Press, 2011)
The Hoopoe’s Crown (BOA Editions, 2005)
Dead Men’s Praise (Grove Press, 1999)
With a Moon in Transit (Grove Press, 1996)
Conversations with Survivors (University of Georgia Press, 1994)
Looking for Angels in New York (University of Georgia Press, 1988)

Window Seat: Providence to New York City

My sixteenth
egret from
the window
of this train,
white against
the marshes'
shocking green
cushioning
Long Island
Sound from
Kingston down
to Mystic against
the shoreline's
erratic discipline:
the egret so
completely
still, the colors
so extreme,
the window
of my train
might be rolling
out a scroll
of meticulous
ancient Chinese
painting: my heart-
beat down its side
in liquid characters:
no tenses, no
conjunctions, just
emphatic strokes
on paper from
the inner bark
of sandalwood:
egret, marshes,
the number
sixteen: white
and that essential
shocking green
perhaps even
the character
for kingfisher
green balanced
with jade white
in ancient poems—
every other element
implicit in the
brush strokes'
elliptic fusion
of calm and motion,
assuring as my
train moves on
and marsh gives way
to warehouses
and idle factories
that my sixteen
egrets still remain:
each a crescent
moon against
an emerald sky,
alabaster on
kingfisher green,
its body motionless
on one lithe leg,
cradling its
surreptitious
wings

Copyright © 2012 by Jacqueline Osherow. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2012 by Jacqueline Osherow. Used with permission of the author.

Jacqueline Osherow

Jacqueline Osherow is the author of several books of poetry, including Ultimatum from Paradise (Louisiana State University Press, 2014), Whitethorn (Louisiana State University Press, 2011), and The Hoopoe's Crown (BOA Editions, 2005).

by this poet

poem

Maybe it was just for this that God pulled
water from dry land: to rescue hoodoo
after hoodoo. That’s what they’re called—

a bastardization of voodoo—
these unrepeatable needles of rock,
geology’s answer to flakes of snow .

A sound enough hypothesis: dark magic.
But I