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Winter/Spring 2003

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Born in England, raised in Rochester, New York, Karen Alkalay-Gut has been living in Israel since 1972. She teaches at Tel Aviv University and writes obsessively. Her latest book, The Love of Clothes and Nakedness, was published in Israel in March of 1999. Women Writers is pleased to present a selection of poems from that latest book, which is available in both English and Hebrew versions. More of Karen's work can be found at Zygzag.com. Click for the press release. Also, see Karen's article on the book party for this book.




The Love of Clothes and Nakedness

And bring some covering
For this naked soul
-King Lear (IV, 1, 43)


I contain
many bodies

and in the morning
never know
which form will emerge.

In the mirror
I have learned to greet
each one warmly and ask
with deference
how it desires to be dressed



Protecting a child's name
with a voluminous cape
was the first mistake -
an anonymous little girl
her face hooded
from human gaze
in the forest

And why red?
Shouldn't I have given her
a briar patch color
to maneuver
the enticing wood
knowing the wolf
was drawn
to the brightness
of little girls?

And why is she known only
by this garish robe
instead of her kindness
to her ancestor?

It was a mistake
to place the weight
of our existence
on her shoulders



You must admit
that for our purposes
glass is so much more appropriate
than fur. The sheer rigidity of it-
the diminutive foot perfectly placed
in the form too small for all
the sisters, hiding
nothing of its consummate lines,
able to maneuver on the dance floor
even to the intricacies of a Gavotte.

Perfect size was always the first rule of beauty.
The second is slipping in to a prescribed shape.  



We must consider, as a red cloak suits a yo