Tuesday, 29 October 2019


Auntie Sphinx

by Jane Yolen


She has the stare of a raptor,
talons long as an eagle's
and she gazes below as if even
a colony of ants might be prey.
She reads the New York times,
does the acrostic without cheating.                           

When it comes time for dinner,
she puts her napkin on like a bib
because eating is a marathon
and she plans to win every race.
Do not ask her for hugs,
or small talk, or speak of the weather.
But she will discuss the minutiae
of Boris Pasternak's work all night,
or the depth of the aurora borealis,
as easily as she discourses upon
the motives of angels
dancing on the head of a pin.

And when you say your goodbyes,
she will hand you a bag of bones.
"For the story," she says, every time.
Till one day you understand,
and write down the story, bones and all.
It is the only way.


* * * * *

Jane Yolen's book count is 382—the majority of them children's books, 10 books of adult poems, plus adult novels (fantasy and historical), nonfiction and memoirs. Twelve music books and 2 cookbooks, and . . . she has a low threshold of boredom. She has written a poem a day for the past seven years. Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates for her work.


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