Laura Foley: “The Vortex”


Arriving early for a meeting
in a dim church basement,
I nearly stumble
on a dazed elderly lady
fallen prone on concrete,
beset by an attendant
fearful of lawsuits, who asks
who she is so repeatedly
he sounds like a machine,
heightening the scene’s
surreality, till she quavers
a name vaguely familiar
to my groping brain,
as sunlight fingers
through a dusty window
like a feeble god ray—
she’s my mother’s old
elementary school friend
—whose arm I take,
to walk her slowly home
through NYC streets
so loud with hurry
their fury blurs my vision,
as we descend
through the eye of its vortex
into the vast unspoken realm
of memory predating me.

Laura Foley won first place in the Common Goods Poetry Contest, judged by Garrison Keillor and the National Outermost Poetry Prize, judged by Marge Piercy. She is the author of five poetry collections, including Night Ringing, Joy Street, and The Glass Tree.

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