Sonia Greenfield

The Follies of Men

I never pegged them as trustworthy.
Even that time I traveled into the kind
of green that puckers the eyes as a lemon
does of the mouth, when my grandmother

brought a younger man to the deserted
ski resort where we listened to the hum
of insects getting drunk on the gin
of such summer vegetation. I was certain

he came to Vermont not for my nana’s
red hair and coral lipstick but for her
bank account. Because by the time
I could slip from the cracked chrysalis

of childhood, I knew drunk fathers leaving
or men putting their hands on the newly hewn
board of my unworldly body or the casual
cruelty of men killing animals. I watched

a lot of television, all the fathers lined up
in their cardigans or sweater vests,
Mr. Rogers as the patron saint of kindness,
but I learned by direct example

that it didn’t take much to coax a reptile
from the skin of a man, that their boots
smelled like brimstone, that every finger
on every one of their hands twitched

to take something from me or the women
I knew. I learned if you let them in you do so
on a case-by-case basis. I learned with men
around there were no safe spaces.



Grieving Is a Political Act

Fuck dignity, the black veil
behind which we are to stifle
our cries with a tissue, the diminuitive
size of lapel ribbons, the way
they are not meant to be interrogated,
the flags folded into triangular boxes
and propped on mantles, fuck sitting
shiva in a dark corner, the way we
don’t know what to say to the lady
crying on the metro, to the moments
of silence, the pat platitudes of thoughts
and prayers and kids hugged tighter
by men whose women do
the child rearing anyway,
fuck pulling yourself together
and putting on a brave face—

It's time to cry a bucketful
and dump it on their heads, time
to sob baptism, to wail cleansing,
to weep writing off the wall that says
we keep our grief in cages. It is time
we embarrass with our tears, time
we fall on our knees in front of men
wearing suits, time we scream the names
of our dead in their faces, time for
spittle and rage. You have permission
to carry the body of your child
into their rarified chambers, to say
have a closer look at the work you have done.
We are throwing open the doors
to our mourning chambers. We will
make you look inside.




A blind woman rented a seeing friend to identify the good-looking men at a singles dance. A pregnant woman rented a mother to persuade her boyfriend to acknowledge their child, and a young man rented a father to conciliate the parents of his pregnant lover.
                                                  –Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry, Elif Batuman, The New Yorker

Make her four. Give
her a tangle of too much
hair, green eyes of her
father, and three

beauty marks like
her brother. Have her
here in a paisley dress.
Have her ask me to sit

on the edge of her bed
to tell how blood
became daughter. How
want runs like water

washing away good
sense. Let her be
a sketcher of little dogs
and a singer of goodbye

songs. Tell her my love
is a well we won't let her
fall in. Make her call
me mama again.



Sonia Greenfield was born and raised in Peekskill, New York, and her chapbook, American Parable, won the 2017 Autumn House Press/Coal Hill Review prize. Her first full-length collection, Boy with a Halo at the Farmer's Market, won the 2014 Codhill Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of places, including in the 2018 and 2010 Best American Poetry, Antioch Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, and Willow Springs. Her collection of prose poems, Letdown, is forthcoming in 2020 with White Pine Press as part of the Marie Alexander Series. She lives with her husband, son, and two rescue dogs in Hollywood where she edits the Rise Up Review and directs the Southern California Poetry Festival.