I try to make tea out of dust

Lyn Lifshin

Born in 1942 in Schenectady, New York, Lyn Lifshin was an award-winning American poet and feminist known for her unique voice and prolific output: over her lifetime, she authored more than 120 books and chapbooks of poetry, edited four anthologies of women’s writing, and contributed to numerous literary magazines and journals. One of her most notable anthologies was Ariadne’s Thread: A Collection of Contemporary Women’s Journals, which collated entries from the diaries of various women. Lifshin was a keen diarist herself, having started in October of 1976; she wrote this entry in April of 1977, when she was 34.

The Diary Entry

April 1. Hudson

Drove in a blue daze thru Kinderhook with it almost raining. Lights on in the stucco house. Jason in a steep decline, screamed is the damn house on the market, screamed you don’t need a sump pump. Dust, sawdust, a week of spaghetti glued on plates piled near the sink. Are you running off to some reading in Kansas he screams. I try to make tea out of dust. See my own house exploding like a baby left alone in a house with no food chewing on electric wires. By four sawdust glues my eyelids together and I curl into a cocoon of myself under a quilt where it’s black. I wake up dragged down too, wanting to sleep thru the month tho the bed smells of cats. The pizza Jason brings onto the blue spread dries. White cat hairs, a pawmark hardens in it like catprints in old bricks. We put our names in the cement last August and the cat’s paw on a day it was too hot and humid to dry. Talking about this, we’re finally warmer.

Further Reading

You can read more of Lifshin’s diary entries in Ariadne’s Thread: A Collection of Contemporary Women’s Journals, an anthology she edited that was published in 1982. To learn more about Lifshin, visit her Wikipedia page. And there’s a nice tribute to her over at The Sun magazine.

Diary entry reprinted by kind permission of Albert G Jordan, Literary Executor, Estate of Lyn Lifshin.

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