Elizabeth Langemak


Elizabeth Langemak lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Green Hole

I give my students a quiz and they fall to the bottom of a green
hole where answers might grow anywhere.

One student looks at me. Another stares out the window, where it
is greener, a wild flowering. Some cast their hope toward the door.
What they should know wraps the room like fingerless hands
choking the air.

When I took quizzes myself, I too kept my eyes where I wanted the
answer to be. I watched my hand and I learned

that a quiz is a way of looking inside oneself. A way to practice
what action to take if you find nothing there.

Jesus’s Lambs

I skim both arms under our cat’s belly and raise them like a
forklift. This cat, I say, likes to be held like one of Jesus’s lambs.
The cat exhales

between my elbows. You look up from your paper and say, I don’t
think Jesus did a lot of lamb holding.

The cat’s legs hang fixed as furniture. His black hair suspends a
constellation of dust and he does not sigh again. He has devised an

for waiting, eyelids in half-sleep like the patient Jesus in all of
those paintings you don’t remember. In each, Jesus doesn’t look
up but holds only a lamb

in his view. Like the cat, he understands that if he can persist my
attention will shift. Soon I will turn and leave him to his sleep.