Estha Weiner grew up in Portland and attended Portland schools before heading to New York for college and her adult life. In this first poem, “As I look Down on you, I love you,” set in her New York City apartment, we can feel another form of the weight of social isolation. The speaker takes pleasure in watching the preparations for a small dinner party, almost as if she is an additional, unseen guest. There is a feeling of magic, as things appear⎯ the salad bowl, the wine. But there is also a kind of longing here, the way we can only observe and enjoy vicariously. And mentioning Anthony Bourdain and Prospero, who had to break his magic, plus the disappearance in the dark, remind us that darkness too is part of this lovely communal creation.

In “Lilies,” Weiner reminds us of both the light and the dark sides of art, and perhaps the way they become so blended together it’s hard to separate beauty from the darker places it has been. Monet, yes, but also Lautrec, the back alleys, women of the night in broad day….

Betsy Sholl, MAJ Poetry Editor


As I look down on you, I love you

Summer, 2020


from my back balcony

on your communal roof:


I view where you’ve placed

a rectangular table,


so humans can dine together

socially, at a distance, after 7.


First, you prepare the barbeque,

and set the table –


I like to watch you

turn each piece of chicken –


Then a salad bowl appears,

and then the wine,


other humans now

relishing the time.


Tall, lean, and elegantly greying –

Anthony Bourdain or Prospero –


Three nights a week,

you recreate the feast


which lasts beyond

the dark,


until it disappears






While Monet’s gardeners at Giverny

were cultivating  waterlilies,

Lautrec was setting up his easel

in  a  squalid corner

of a back alley

in Montmartre, wild

with long grass, shrubs, and thickets.

To this horticulture,

he summoned  women of the night

to pose

in the light

of day.


Estha Weiner has published four books of poetry, at the last minute, In the Weather of the World, The Mistress Manuscript, Transfiguration Begins at Home. She teaches, among other places, in the City College of New York and the Writers Voice. She has also taught in Maine’s Stonecoast Writers Conference.


Image at top: Kathy Bradford, Lunch Painting, acrylic on canvas, 78 x 80 in., 2018.