Big Silences in a Year of Rain


In stock

poems by

Doris Ferleger

Poetry book, 100 pages, $14.95 cover price

ISBN: 978-1-59948-258-3

Released: 2010



D_Ferleger_PxDoris Ferleger, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, poet and essayist whose work has appeared in many journals including: Bridges,California Quarterly, Comstock Review, South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, and in anthologies entitled: Motherpoet andJourney into Motherhood. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College and is a former poet laureate of Montgomery County PA. Her work won the Robert Fraser Prize for Poetry, was a finalist for the Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Award and the Beatrice Hawley award, and a semi-finalist for the Brittingham Prize in Poetry and the Many Mountains Moving Press Poetry Prize.

Capacious in spirit, world-wise, intimate and linguistically rich, Doris Ferleger allows so much into her poems: history and the personal life, family and the romantic, the rough and the soft, a love of culture, and a compassionate heart. I love the long, colorful lines, rich story telling and its passionate heart. These poems convincingly persuade us to see how, even after the violence of life, we must repeatedly return to a condition of joy and communion.

–Tony Hoagland


These poems are lived inside with an intensity that is extremely rare, and with such joy in the medium, resoundingly celebratory of the invisible yet somehow palpable powers of poetry.

–Bill Olsen


Doris Ferleger’s poems are DEEPLY DEEPLY moving. The ‘breath in her hands’, the companionship of the absent ones–these are breathtaking, revelatory poems, full of heart and soul and care and pain and healing. I honor them.

–Naomi Shihab Nye

If you run away to the circus
I will be the tight rope. If you run
away to the sea I will be the sail,
I read to my son from the Run Away Bunny.
I used to wonder if any other mother found
the book disturbing-the mother
bunny traveling the world after her boy
so he can’t even run away. I used to dream
I was still living in my childhood house,
even years after I had moved out,
gotten married, left with my husband
to live in another country, gotten very sick
for long years bargaining with the old
God of my childhood, If you make me
better I promise I will…While I waited for
God to keep His promise I held
a warm wash cloth, threadbare
against my face. God, this is my face,
my bare face under my rent veil.
Can you see my eyes? Are they like
the eyes of a changeling or the stranger
who stood so many years ago, legs stretched
wide apart on the small square of lawn
in front of our old row house, his face
turned upward to sky, mouth
open like the moon
breathing in the not yet night-
shift air, breathing out his boozy breath?
God, how he sang as though the poor earth
he stood on had entered his feet and turned
to lava somewhere deeper inside of him
than anyone had ever been.
Momma averted her eyes
and pulled all of us around
to the back alley, through
our basement door, the one
we never used before
or after. The Elvis-looking boy
next door, who lifted
the laundry pole for strength
training, had dropped
the clothes pins on our driveway
in a heap that looked like so many
clowns’ earrings. Hearing the drunkard
still singing on our lawn out front, the trolley cars
trundling by, the cockroaches scampering
in and out of the drain, Momma put up
the tea kettle until it, too,
couldn’t stop singing.



Deep snow and Bernie bought
his mother a spring handbag,
a fancy shmancy evening bag
in spring colors. She didn’t like
the colors but she kept it as a sign

of his trust in her
living at least until
crocuses popped up.

The morning I walked over stones
in the creek, I was wearing that pale yellow
gauzy dress with tiny spring flowers tied
in bouquets all over and those girlish puffy sleeves
and a young man was playing
a harmonica
in the clover grass and it wasn’t
a dream that I was alive.



for Lilly and Samara


Now the crashing
into the first tower.
Crashing into the second
yet to come. Time between
crashes is everlasting time
as my Mara rides the subway
from Bed Sty to the Village
for class, as the subway halts
between stops and white tile walls
shine close on either side,
as passengers are told:
Go above ground, now!
As my Mara doesn’t yet
know from what she’s escaping,
as she climbs the piss-ripe
cement stairs seeking safety
in the smutty island air,
as she arrives street level, as her eyes
shoot up just in time
to see the second tower
smote down, the demolition
of her youth. She calls it that.

Mara eats no meat, no
chicken, nothing that needs
to be killed in order
for her to live.
It started when
she was three and lisped,
Mommy, tsicken
is tsicken! Meaning what
was on her plate was
just yesterday
running free
in our neighbors’ yards.

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