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Phyllis Gotlieb (1926-)

So Long It's Been


      *Fibonacci found the significance of
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 ...,
they explain
the way seeds spiral in the sun
flower and pine scales
twist in the cone

I tell you LYNDHURST 8325
means the house my aunt moved from in 1942
and I remember the cousins who said 20 years ago:
call us when you 're in town, the number 's
ILLINOIS 8-3713
but I forget their names

SO LONG IT'S BEEN

              1time to clear the silent
              2sullen round of numbers stacked in my
              3brainracks
              4                  clear HOWARD 0141 where the one
              5armed man lived next door and Mrs. Goldfarb
              6with her slipstraps slid on her fat pink arms
              7                                                                 clear
              8HARGRAVE 8375 where the park sweeps below the railing
              9and Broadview Ave, on a foggy day a ship's
            10deck sailing a sea of limbo washed with
            113 old skaters 7 tennis players and a shattered
            12rubbydub
            13               GERRARD 6715 Good evening Century Theatre
            14Goodbye Mrs Gersten, Miss Fernandez, Miss Fleuhrer &
            15all burglars anonymous uncaught who tied up my
            16father & stole the safe, or his lunch, or sometimes
            17even $$$$
            18               clear GERRARD 2222 (too) easy to remember Call
            19me anytime Mr Wallace walks me in the schoolyard &
            20knowing does not tell me my grandmother
            21                                                            LAKESIDE 0007
            22never liked flowers because they reminded her of
            23funerals: how many roses from hers have I found
            24cracking the backs of Uncle Nissel's
            25SCHUYLER 4-7767 old encylopedias?
            26                                                          clear GROVER 9595
            27where I pulled the kid cousin's braids, ate
            28knishes, and cried: yes, he 's dead, he died this
            29morning
            30               numbers that lived in me clear clear clear no
            31answer, nobody lives
            32there any more

my ghost directories are
yellowpage clear through, the
crossroads of the past
are one-way thoroughfares

Notes

] Fibonacci: Leonardo Pisano Fibonacci (1170-1250), a mathematician who discovered the sequence in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers.

9] Broadview Ave: a north-south thoroughfare in east Toronto.

13] otherwise known as The Music Hall, Toronto.

28] knishes: Yiddith term for baked or fried dough pieces stuffed with cheese, meat, or fruit.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Copyright The Works: Collected Poems of Phyllis Gotlieb Calliope Press 1978
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Phyllis Gotlieb, The Works: Collected Poems (Toronto: Calliope Press, 1978): 58-59.
First publication date: 1969
Publication date note: Ordinary, Moving. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1969.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2002
Recent editing: 1:2002/11/3

Rhyme: unrhyming


Other poems by Phyllis Gotlieb