2 Poems — Ellen Elder

Another Wedding Season

–After Elif Batuman’s article “The Ice Renaissance” in the
May 29, 2006 issue of
The New Yorker

St. Petersburg, 1740

It was so cold the brandy froze.
Bats fell from the sky as if from molds.
Empress Anna, overfed and bored,
began arranging dwarf marriages.
She built a palace on the frozen Neva
carved entirely from ice. Center stage
rocked the marriage bed, even the bride’s
slippers were spun from ice, only the
playing cards (and dwarfs) were real.
The nuptials fornicated in frozen sport
while the Empress peered through opera
glasses, feasting on duck and pickle soup.
There was a fee. There were elephants.
Oh, coin flip. Feathered asses, quaint
cupcakes of cloak and dagger.


Moving Statue

“When the child was a child
it didn’t know that it was a child,
to it, everything had a soul,
and all souls were one.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke

In the cemetery graves
stand, hearts ajar, like aprons
in a Gothic kitchen.

The child sucks the lip
of the ear of the statue
whose palms hold it up

like an ugly duckling.
Three beggars arrive, one by
one, and ask the child,

What do you desire most?
And the child replies,
To kiss her stone mouth.

The child loves pansies
and words etched in bone.
She doesn’t care whether

her mother prefers broccoli
or soldiers, she doesn’t dare
say the virgin didn’t move.


Ellen Elder holds degrees from The University of Chicago, Miami University of Ohio and The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She spent childhood summers in Ireland where her family ran an inn. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in About Place Journal, DMQ Review, Exquisite Corpse, Leveler, Mayday, Painted Bride Quarterly, Tampa Review and elsewhere. Born in New York City and raised in Cincinnati, she lives in Germany.