Florence Weinberger
A long time ago, in the mid or late 90’s, I recall Franceye saying to me that I was going to like Florence Weinberger’s poetry. I think that was one of my very first times at Beyond Baroque, and Florence read a poem about the Holocaust that I have never forgotten. Florence’s latest book is Sacred Graffiti, on sale here today. Her poems are deep and gentle, feminine and wise. She’s lived, she’s been around, she knows her Coney Island and her supermarket and her family drama; she knows about joy and grieving, and her work is beautifully devoid of pretentiousness or artificiality.  Florence has been around, and yet the poems sparkle with a fresh energy that is missing in the work of many boy and girl poets.  These poems are conversational and relaxed on the surface, yet hold up well even after repeated readings.  Once we’ve experienced this work, it somehow stays with us in its subtle, earthy way, miraculously balancing head and heart. Not many poets are capable of achieving that balance, but Florence is, as she will show us today.


The fat women in the Coney Island steam bath
            pinched my cheek and laughed at nothing,
sweat gleaming off their skin and coarse, curly hair,
            not a bone to be seen anywhere,
not in my aunt’s long breasts, none in the flesh
            of my mother’s belly.  I grew up in the shelter
of kitchen gossip, amplitude nourished by yeasty smells,
            pillows of soft-rising dough, a feminine language

that taught me where the body begins, its armature
            concealed, its health augmented like good soup. 
By sixth grade, I knew I was fat.  I married a man
            with a flat stomach and an unrequited hunger.

The soup the Nazis fed him in their concentration camp
            was thin as silk, what floated there thinner still.
From the aunts and mothers I learned wisdom is liquid,
            rescue, a recipe they give to their daughters.

When the soup is done, I remove the bones,
            scoop out the glutinous marrow, every last shred.
I spread it on fresh rye bread.
            I watch him eat, and my heart gets fat.

2011 Florence Weinberger
Florence Weinberger was a Featured Poet who read her poetry at the April 2011 Second Sunday Poetry Series