Tara Zafft

Add Your Heading Text Here

‘Invitation,’ a poem by Tara Zafft, is this week’s Sunday Showcase. In this poem, Zafft contends with the pain inherent in being a mother, a daughter, and a friend, while trying to preserve a space for her own healing and growth. 

Tara Zafft has a BA from UC San Diego and Ph.D in Russian literature from the University of Bath, UK. She began writing poetry when she was thirteen, and only recently began submitting her work for publication. She has poems published in the upcoming anthology, Rumors Secrets and Lies, Poems about Abortion, Pregnancy and Choice, Write-Haus, and The San Diego Poetry Annual. She counts Frank O’Hara, Sandra Cisneros, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton among her greatest poetic influences. She is interested in the big and small moments that make up our lives, in the search for self and the inevitability of change, and what distinguishes us and what unites us as human beings. Tara has three adult children and currently lives in Tel Aviv with her husband.


 – Tara Zafft

I call this management of self, poetry.

Sandra Cisneros


My mind is a mess with Cisneros, the clock

says two when I put the book down

lay my head down, head spinning with black coffee

and thoughts (or is it a beckoning?)

some distant whisper of a friend long silenced

a friend that says, stand naked 

before the mirror, alone

examine the folds written on skin, put 

there by babies and scars

on the face—turn 

light on

full-blast, get out the magnifying glass and look

at the face

that won’t let itself cry because the dinner was burned

and the kids didn’t call

and I can’t find the match to those old running socks

because that is such a 




cry—when the world is at war

and your friend now has cancer

and your daughter feels lost and your mother—

confused, and you?

(where is there room for you?)

you look closer, and there—by the eyes

faint hint of a smile, an invitation—to shine

on all we call—petty 

sing a song to their sweetness, lay 


down, sweetheart, the friend says

make chocolate cupcakes

with sprinkles—to honor

the broken nail, the sore ankle, the children longed for

the mother so far, far away

the soggy tofu and language you can’t speak (yet),

the friends you don’t have (yet)

the poem you haven’t written (yet)

the son who still doesn’t get that his army service

was yours too

and the wrinkled lady who still feels two

and reads her Rilke and Cisneros—to feel at home, who sometimes


to breathe—