Poetry | June 01, 2009

Featuring the poems:

  • In the future, the future will be the past (featured as Poem of the Week, July 14, 2009)
  • BRCA1
  • Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down
  • Meditations on a false spring
  • From the history of the grade school


In the future, the future will be the past

A woman screamed

during the protest between supporters

of Arabs on one side and Israelis

on the other that Jews should “go back

to the ovens.” There’s a picture of her

on the web in a white scarf, mouth open, everything

slightly blurry because she was moving

or the camera was or the Earth jumped a bit

at what she said. As I looked at the picture,

Eve was behind me folding a shirt, sleeves first

and then in half and then in half again

the other way, making me glad

I’m not a shirt, she coughed and I saw her

in an oven. This wasn’t a thought

but a vision, not a Jew in an oven

but this Jew in an oven, not this Jew

in an oven but these lips, eyes, this voice

made ash. I got up and kissed her

to make sure she was there, not telling her

she’d just died in my brain,

then sat before the screen and stared

and stared again at the picture

of the woman, refreshing my gaze

at whatever rate humans do

who want to know what it feels like

to wear a particular head, to own

a different tongue. Sure that, if I could meet her,

if the crowd dispersed, if screaming

were put aside, if she sat across a table

from Eve, and saw her stirring coffee,

worrying a hair into place, and I gave this woman

paper and pencil and told her, I am a god,

you can sketch anything you want to happen

and it will happen, she wouldn’t sketch an oven

and Eve in the oven, wouldn’t draw fire

but a hill, as all children draw hills,

as all adults are children in the universe

in which I am a god, a hill with a view

of other wavings from other hills-

these are examples of the thoughts

I have of people, as these are examples of questions

I ask the falling snow: if I could burn a sock

could I burn a foot, if a foot a finger, if a finger

an ear, if an ear a womb, could I ever burn

a womb, snow, in your opinion,

how did we get here?

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