Phyllis Gotlieb (1926-)
So Long It's Been
*Fibonacci found the significance of
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 ...,
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
but I forget their names
SO LONG IT'S BEEN
1time to clear the silent
2sullen round of numbers stacked in my
4 clear HOWARD 0141 where the one
5armed man lived next door and Mrs. Goldfarb
6with her slipstraps slid on her fat pink arms
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
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
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
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
] 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:
Publication date note: Ordinary, Moving. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1969.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2002
Recent editing: 1:2002/11/3
Other poems by Phyllis Gotlieb