Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Erica Lehrer and Dancing with Ataxia

After majoring in English at Princeton University, Erica Lehrer got her J.D. from NYU School of Law.  She practiced law for a number of years before turning full-time, to writing.  Her life turned upside down when she was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy, a neurodegenerative disease. 

What they are saying about Erica Lehrer’s Dancing With Ataxia:

Visions of struggle and triumph, told with a clear, powerful, evocative, voice that can lead us into waking dreams.  I highly recommend this book, and commend Erica Lehrer for her hard, glittering work.

-Luis Alberto Urrea, Latino Literature Hall of Fame

In Dancing with Ataxia, Erica Lehrer allows us into her brilliant mind and an existence that has become a mixture of loss, humor, doubt, hope and discovery, as she comes to grips with the effects of an inexplicable disease.  The poems are like little messages found in bottles sent out to the world and fill the reader with insights and revelations that may only come from living on the island of her personal journey…

-Dave Parsons, 2011 Texas State Poet Laureate

The following poems come from her book Dancing With Ataxia.
The Friendswood Public Library carries a copy of Dancing with Ataxia. It can also be found through Amazon with all proceeds going to medical research. 


Minnows and Koi

By Erica Lehrer

Your eyes are dark bottomless lakes
reflecting light from others while seemingly

generating little light of their own; yet I suspect,

were I to tilt back your head and look deep,

deep within (as I might were I to kiss you)

I'd see speckled minnows and golden koi darting

to and fro amidst sea-green ferns, undulating

grasses, inexplicable currents of electricity.

Let us, at least, give it a try.

By Erica Lehrer
For Francine Ringold
On the hottest day in July
when even the cedars are shriveled and scorched
she heads to the river
and there
amidst the boulders
she finds five
smooth stones
and one by one
she skips them
with a flick
of her tiny wrist
watching them skim
through the crystalline water
and though she will grow up
and live for many years
in faraway cities
she will never forget
this perfect afternoon
By Erica Lehrer
On hot days you could find him
down by the river and up a tree,
enjoying its cool. If she stood on tiptoe,
arms stretched skyward and he reached
his hands through the branches,
he could lift her into the leafy treehouse
where they’d be hidden from view.
Too young to work, too old to play,
they’d stare at each other wordlessly
smiling like maniacs, eating green
grapes, a breeze lifting the damp hair
off their foreheads, arousing in them
a restlessness they didn’t yet understand.
That boy is dead now. The tree, too.
Today, by the river, even the wind is still.
By Erica Lehrer
was the way a single
gnarled branch
from a half-dead tree
would scrape
against the loose strung outdoor lights
on cold winter nights
and twist in the wind –
creaking, groaning –
casting shadows on the wall
above my sleeping love
while I marveled
at the beauty of it all.
Erica Lehrer with members of Net Poets Society at a recent FPL Poetry Series Reading.
 More poems by Erica Lehrer:

The Road to Chimayo


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