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

Illusion by Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld

The Empress Dowager Tz’u-Hsi speaks.


The whole garden

drowses. A stone Buddha

sits in the lotus position, legs crossed,

aspect not quite inscrutable. His lips lift

in a smile of honeyed sweetness.

Now is the hour of languor.


Can time simply stop? Suppose in a photo

a man and a woman seem to be kissing,

lips lifted in honeyed sweetness. Is there

an eternal pause? Time’s metronome

ticks out a tempo. A photo

is only illusion.


Once, in my yard, a sunbird hung

in the air in front of me—sunbird jet bead eyes

level with mine. Blurred wing beats, small body

throbbing. I stopped breathing for all of the long

moments he stayed suspended—

I, who am not a flower.


Bees, in a thin buzz, circle the Buddha.

The sun is casting a broad shadow across the face

of the sundial. Buddha remains unmoved. Folds

of his robe are open down to his navel. One

jacaranda blossom drifts to his upturned palm.

Ask me what makes time stop.


When the throbbing heart, long suspended,

leaps from the throat to a place south

of the navel, where may remain a few

drops of honeyed sweetness,

legs unlotused, time stands still.


I think you too

are an illusion.

Still, I give you my hand.

I give you my throbbing heart.

Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld is a former Southern Methodist University Press editor, SMU English instructor, and U.S. Navy analyst. Her work has appeared in print in Ekphrasis, Southwest Review, Nimrod, Rosebud, Margie, Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry, Travois: An Anthology of Texas Poetry, and The Listening Eye, and online at Persimmon Tree, qarrtsiluni, Centaur, Cyclamens and Swords, MidEastWeb, and Zwoje, where her poem “Angel” appears in both English and Polish translation. “Angel” is also in the 2nd Edition of The Auschwitz Poems, available from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Additionally, a poem of Marjorie’s is in British author Patrick Dempsey’s documentary book Babi Yar. Her chapbook, Fringing the Garments, was published in 2013 by Pecan Grove Press, St. Mary’s University. 

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