Back to Issue Twenty-Seven.

Spirit Photograph: Tara


In a room, we gathered around your bed
to stay in uncertainty. We brought you
soup & tulips. A year of blood,
vials filled & emptied & yellow
light. First time you let me see you
without makeup, your face lanterned,
fear casting to far shores. The first thing
to go, comforting thoughts of suicide.
The first thing to go bodies of animals
you would now eat again, your skin
luminous, green of the aurora, green
of chlorophyll pills you swallowed,
jars of water filled & unfilled. A new kind
of dancing. How we were then truly
your family. What can be said
for the house you were born/not born
into—place of no place?—house
where your child skin was hide sack,
turned over & shook for silver
that never fell—& almost every day
those first few months the doctors
reached their knowledge up into you
to turn a treasure & said they found
even as you hallucinated smoke, blond
in hunks vaporing the shower: not there.
What is it to be believed? To show
the organisms a home because no one
else would name them? Welcome
a vampire in. Wall the devil out.
Soften 40 years of survivor in weeks.
How it took the shadow of blood
in your brain to open. A censer in my mouth
swinging, gold chain in my teeth.
I walk & the myrrh keeps burning.
In my hands, empress of air which is
                not nothing.
I’m giving you what I cannot give you.
My mouth drawing pictures around
your wounding. You tell me the poem
is my business with God. There to tap
into if I want it. I’m seeing us again
at the water, what you said you needed
to see—every mountain a home for you
—but not yet—still—keep this body
        hurt house though it is.


Spirit Photograph: Shofar


תרועה Teru’ah- “A broken sound”

Once, I loved what hurt me. No. That isn’t right.
I loved what the people who hurt me might become—
loved what belief could shape them—the frame
I poured them into. Underneath this bright undoing

a sky of stars, a horse’s rough back. I stood in the field
and let the goats run toward me,
their bodies growing huge in the hot dawn, my feet
sinking deeper in the mud. They were on me then,

tugging at my belt, my shorts, pulling my shirt,
their hungry mouths, eyes glass stones,
so like beloveds only I could feed, beggars
who need in every direction.

Once, my mind full of scabs,
I took myself to a beach and wept.
I ate gravel and trusted myself for the first time.
I looked out over a sea

of backs approaching, strike of a thousand hooves
rushing and all I could feel was peace. Crucible
of those first months after
when I could not weep, couldn’t feel anything.

Stone in the belly of a ruminant, stone
in my accuser’s mouth, wearing his teeth to flat planes.
I want to tell you—I have loved the same man
for seven years and almost every day I am restless,

and almost every day I love him as I have never
loved anything else, ask myself if this
is what love is meant to be.
How do any of us learn the difference

between violence and visitation?
Holy mouth, who wants only to swallow me,
how is it I confused you for desire?
Desire for love? On the surface

of the sky a thousand flies trim the hide
of what I cannot leave behind.
I hold my arms away from my body
and let the muzzles press through me a door,

run my hand along the velvet
between horns. T’kiyah, g’dolah,
good boy, good boy, it isn’t every day I move towards
what doesn’t want to kill me.‍

sara brickman poet

Sara Brickman is a queer Jewish writer, performer, and community organizer from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems and essays can be found in Indiana ReviewBOAATMuzzle MagazineGhosts of Seattle Past, The Dead Animal Handbook, and the YA anthology Courage: Daring Poems for Gusty Girls. She is a winner of the Split This Rock Poetry Prize, a Lambda Literary Emerging Artists Fellow, and the recipient of grants from the Yiddish Book Center, 4Culture, and more. Sara holds degrees from Smith College and the University of Virginia and lives in Seattle with a cat named Latke.


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