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judith barrington

Judith Barrington grew up in Brighton, England, lived in Spain for three years, and moved thirty five years ago to Oregon, USA. She has published three collections of poetry, most recently Horses and the Human Soul (Story Line Press, 2004). Previous titles include History and Geography (finalist for the Lambda Book Award and the Oregon Book Award) and Trying to be an Honest Woman. Recent work also includes two chapbooks: Postcard from the Bottom of the Sea and Lost Lands (winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Award). Her Lifesaving: A Memoir won the 2000 Lambda Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. Her best-selling text, Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, is used by colleges and writing groups in the U.S., Germany, and Australia. She was the winner of the 2012 Gregory O'Donoghue Prize.





On Getting Married for the Third Time


Number one: I did what I was supposed to:

it was expected so I joined the crowd,

tramped up the aisle in white drag, drunk,

and promised unpromissable things.


There was not much wrong with him

except conventional masculinity

and an old-fashioned definition of the word wife.

The real doozy was my being a lesbian.

Yes, well before I hitched myself

to the coat-tails of his morning suit

I had been hitching to dresses, petticoats,

even those tight pencil skirts of the 50s and 60s

that shortened a woman’s stride

but clung nicely to rounded buttocks.


Eleven months in, that first one hit me

and threatened to expose me as a pervert

but number two was a very good man.

I needed him at the time

and he graciously agreed to be needed

for a couple of years. Nuff said.


Number three, hooray, is the real deal.

Not the wedding, you understand,

since there wasn’t one in the usual sense:

What would be the point after 34 years

of building what some would call a marriage?


What we built was called our life

a life of outlaws if you think a relationship

needs laws but what we made was recognizable

even to the most conventional of our neighbors:

a castle with solid walls and a wide portico where an animal

  our familiar in its black or red or black-and-white coat

would lie beside us while the Norway maple,

only three feet tall when the city planted it,

grew right through the power lines.


That tree became its own castle with a dim

interior of woven branches mysterious to passers-by

who looked up into the maze, took photos

on their iPhones, and watched blue jays and crows,

squirrels and hummingbirds busy with their lives.

Around year 25, the magnolia we’d bought at an auction

to help pay off Marcia’s medical bills, finally shot up

above the porch railing and saluted us where we sat with

our gin and tonic at sunset, its succulent, creamy

trumpets shaking the foundations of everything.



©2013 Judith Barrington




Author Links


Judith Barrington homepage

Reading by Barrington (YouTube)

'Crows': poem by Barrington at Poetry.us.com







©2009 Southword Editions
Munster Literature Centre

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