Judith Skillman





Child of Solitude


Beneath an umbrella she found herself in solitude.

Listened to a gibberish of gutturals, kept solitude.


Afterwards she put up the umbrella & crept inside, solitude

her only desire as a child in one of several row houses occupied


by widows or the down & out. She longed to be alone, held

vigil inside the ring of spokes. No one cared or noticed.


How survive a war that outlasts its own ending? Solitude.

How live with two PhD's whoÕve earned their solitude?


This barracks meant for soldiers, its thin walls—she'd

heard arguments & lovemaking as a child in solitude.


Been sent to bed, put out of sight before company came. Had

spankings hurt? Not other than their after-lord, named Solitude.


Roller skating a ring of linked sidewalks in Greenbelt, planned

by Eleanor Roosevelt, she'd had a friend or two apart from solitude.


Where'd she end up? How break in on sixty years of solitude

framed by pain & depression, o unknown nun of solitude?









Judith Skillman's most recent book is Kafka's Shadow, Deerbrook Editions.  Her poems have appeared in FIELD, Cimarron Review, Shenandoah, The Iowa Review, and in anthologies including Nasty Women Poets, Lost Horse Press. She is the recipient of a 2017 Washington Trust GAP grant. Visit www.judithskillman.com