KR OnlinePoetry

Two Poems

While Waitressing at the Kosher Restaurant A Man Calls Me A Whore and a Woman Rushes Behind Me into the Kitchen to Hand Me Her Baby

Every season is good for killing girls,
             the seaweed-black night foaming

with stars—
             a plaque of women’s names.

Before Mary’s a whore,
             a baby is placed in the frozen bird

of her lap, the dignity in being.
             Every place that hurts you

is the season where the sun bursts
             like salmon on fire. Think

of Eve shivering naked beneath the alder
             watching God get angry—

is it anger or is it grief—all of us doing
             what we’ve been trained to do.


The Women Gather at Biala River at Night

Light sheds its skin in the poplars,
             Earth’s soldiers wielding the dark, bats emerging

like machinery along the branches, a trick of the eyes,
             and still the river is a cantor, singing.

Once, in a holy city, all around me the women wept,
             craning their perfumed necks,

hooked fish eyes swelling in birdless light.
             Once, blood glimmered on the rocks here

in meager testimony. Not here, but inside here,
             within the cities within a story, soft framework

where loneliness flowers. Here, I go to the women, take
             forgiveness from their hands, drill

the bullet-sized hole in my head to receive
             the light in its endless repetition.

Once, light brushed the hair of my dead aunts as they bent
             to kiss their siddurs on the other side of the drought.

How their bodies grew wet as eels gathering
             underneath a sentence, mouthing gibberish,

an engine refusing to shut off, and inside,
             what God will do when I die.