SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Dress Rehearsal by Barbara Nightingale

My life is a tragedy. Like one of those tragicomedies, actually, the ones with all the ironies cropping up throughout, the circular and poetically justified coincidences and endings, but tragic nonetheless, with a certain grim humor. Now I think I finally understand the story of Job. Just when you think he can’t take anymore, more is given, and through it all, he perseveres, albeit complaining through his bearded tear, and piercing wails. But then Job is rewarded in the end, though I never understood how he could just switch one woman and family for another set and be perfectly satisfied, but then I remember it’s the BIBLE, and of course one set of women would be exchangeable for another, as would the children as long as they were girls. The boys might be more problematic, but as long as he had some, then he’d be perfectly happy. The only thing missing are the angels saying what I did or didn’t do to deserve all this attention, but then, maybe I just don’t recognize them, haven’t listened as they speak in those sing-song voices that sound like pipes or harps or whatever it is they really have carved out of the vast nothingness that is supposed to be the world beyond. I wonder about the karma, though, I really do. And collective guilt. There’s more than one philosopher at fault here. Marriages fail, children point fingers of guilt looking for excuses, a long-gone ex-husband commits suicide, leaves everything to the long-gone ex-wife to clean up, and everyone congratulates her on her windfall, but really, wasn’t that the most serious reproach he could have made? Wasn’t it his final punishment, leaving her with the questions and the images and actual MESS that life and death create? Didn’t he really let everyone else off easy, not wanting them to see, to partake, to uncover the mysteries of those final few hours? What solution can be found to erase these prints made upon a retina too wide to close fast enough, too honest to look away?


Barbra Nightingale's eighth book of poems, Alphalexia, is with Finishing Line Press (2017). Her previous books include Two Voices, One Past (Yellow Jacket, 2011) and Geometry of Dreams (Word Tech, 2009). Her poems have appeared in the Florida Review, Kansas Quarterly, Sliver of Stone, Red Booth Review, Barrow Street, Poetry Bay, Kalliope, and Many Mountains Moving, among others.  She lives in Hollywood, FL with her two- and four-legged menagerie. 

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