After Rosenkavalier

by Natania Rosenfeld

Featured image: Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes). Lovers Sitting on a Rock; folio 24 (verso) from the Madrid Album ‘B’, 1796–97. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We talked about her,
the Marschallin, only
thirty-two, and her lover,
seventeen, though the singers
were fiftyish, and we ourselves
are approaching there, though our
lives have not reached their
pinnacle. Will we ever
roar with our whole voice
and soul, cry out that way
with all life crying through us,
or will we walk on, obedient
and tired in our traces, as the round
orange sun goes down
across the long, white prairie?

In our little warm car, we drive
into the pale arms of the fields,
leave behind the mall and
the Marschallin, return to the small
town to lie under the glassy moon
and dream of a gold curtain,
of young limbs entangled,
and renunciation clad in violet.


Natania Rosenfeld is a writer, independent scholar and Professor Emerita of English at Knox College. She has published a poetry collection, Wild Domestic (Sheep Meadow Press 2015), and a critical book, Outsiders Together: Virginia and Leonard Woolf (Princeton 2000). An e-chapbook, She and I, appeared in 2018 from Essay Press. Her essays, poems and fiction are forthcoming or have appeared in journals including AGNI, The Yale Review, APR, Raritan, Gettysburg Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Southwest Review, and four essays have been listed as “Notable” in Best American Essays collections. She was recently named one of 30 “Writers to Watch” by the Guild Literary Complex in Chicago, where she has lived since 2018.

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