Sept/Oct 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 5 PoetrySeptember 9, 2021 |

The Dybbuk Ascends

In Jewish folklore, a dybbuk is a disembodied spirit that possesses a human host. Women with mental health conditions were often said to be possessed by dybbuks. My horns are disappearing, parts of my furred ears rub away in the red wind. Here, the wind can take you in pieces —  my long Semitic nose and curly hair like a calligraphy of barbed wire. Someone is trying to burn the girl out of me. Diamonds line my eye sockets, diamonds in my fever-lit brain. My neck, a fat matchstick. I am such spectacular light — shock of incarnadine that ignites even the shadows. There are no shadows here, only five golden finches rising like a hand into the blistering crown of a cherry tree. A myth in which a god sets us on fire and then sets us free.

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Hadara Bar-Nadav is an NEA Fellow and author of several award-winning collections of poetry, among them The New Nudity, Lullaby (with Exit Sign), The Frame Called Ruin, and others. In addition, she is coauthor of the best-selling textbook Writing Poems, eighth edition. She is a professor of English and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Missouri–Kansas City.

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