[poem about Naomi; unsent]
BY RACHEL MENNIES
If I could keep her company in the blue bed.
If I could join the assembled birds arrowed towards the greening park.
If I could desire a bowerbird instead of her, I could feel migration as instinct and follow
If I could desire a bowerbird instead of her, I could feel desire as instinct and follow it.
If I didn’t know her black brows move when she sleeps as if remembering and forgetting
If I didn’t know she sleeps unclothed, even in winter when the birds are gone.
If she said read to me, I would say how.
If she said please, I would say each female bowerbird mates only once.
July 16, 2016
BY RACHEL MENNIES
In school, the rabbi offered me the word spirit when I asked should I already hate my
body this much?
Spirit is a woman who cannot leave a woman.
Spirit has weights in her feet that keep her in her body.
(Later the rabbi said you’ve asked enough questions for today.)
Naomi, I write to you at thirty. I carry around this muscular bag.
Shouldn’t each spirit eventually accept her body?
I used to grab my inner thighs between my hands and clamp down until the spirit
I would study my purpling skin while I filled my mouth with gravel.
Today I imagine spirit like a woman asleep in a pile of bones.
I imagine love like gnawing.
I wanted a body equally like and unlike my own and never found her.
Do I wear my grief more like a suit or a skirt?
My hands shake at the buttons. They struggle with the wire hook-and-eye.
When I was a child, the doctor called my hands dainty.
He told my mother I had piano fingers. Ones that could span an octave, or cover an
entire face in its grip, palm to mouth.
If nobody has died, why do I grieve?
How do I dress the body I will not meet? How do I dress the body I cannot love?
We Jews adorn even the mirror when we mourn.
Our bodies become unfathomable.
The men and the women wear black for a week, keen from the waist in the widow’s
Every body looks the same for seven nights.
When I close my eyes at night, my hands grow to the size of your back.
I open my fingers in the silent room, fill the warming space between your shoulder
When I close my eyes, Naomi, your body remains covered in light.