firstname.lastname@example.org / judykronenfeld.com
email@example.com / judykronenfeld.com
Bio Note: This selection is from Shimmer, my third book of poetry (Wordtech, 2012). I reread the book recently and found myself enjoying it—always gratifying! Recent poems have appeared in Gyroscope Review, One Art, and MacQueen's Quinterly, among others. I'm still hoping to update my website (stuck somewhere in the early pandemic) soon.
A bit of good luck spurts from the phone—your daughter's swooped on a coveted job—and you let out a whoop from your diaphragm, you high-five the air. It’s been black as hell’s receiving dock around home; now you’re bathing under a cascade of light in a Baroque painting: the sound of your shout wants to ripple out and touch the far shores, the light wants to coat more bowed heads, but there’s no-one to tell. Your confidante has been having a bout of very bad luck and you know to call would be flaunting a red boogie dress in the midst of a funeral. Oh the grief of the nicked, tarnished human soul! Yours, because you want her to thrill to your luck as if it were her own; hers because there’s no way she can. You wish you could hear your mother (dead) shout Gott Sei Dank! gratifying the assumption that good luck belongs to her progeny as surely as white purses to July. The ripples fizz out; the light grows dim as a 40 watt bulb. So you ring up a cousin on your mother’s side, you haven’t talked to for—what? a year? —and bless her! Brava! That’s my girl! her voice exclaims, bouffant with smiles, bolstering the illusion families are for. But really, how did she get so good about good luck? you’re thinking as you embark on the inflated luxury raft, Elect. It can’t be because she’s “family,” since most of the clan excel at the deflating sneer (when your luck grows, there’s less to go around)— I always knew she’d get ahead! your cousin says in her larky voice. You practically levitate off your seat. Expedited by winged Fedexim, the news of your luck speeds past the Powers-that-be— It’s up to! it’s over the Cherubim and Seraphim! It’s hurdling the ninth circle of Paradise! It’s splashing into the n-e-e-c-t-a-a-r of the r-o-o-o-s-e- of light! And the rose, wholeheartedly, nods.
Originally published in Innisfree Poetry Journal (September, 2008)
i Finding us in another country, news of Death, sudden, probably an overdose— a never known second cousin, now never to be known. His parents’ hearts, because they do not stop, must sting their chests: if only… we should have… why didn’t… Among our friends, polite death’s just begun to leave his cloned calling cards, and when he finds someone at home, it’s not quite the personal, rude slap of a hostile universe. But this was “unseasonable,” as the former clergy would have said, if no less evidence the young are also “only lent.” Why are you shocked? I hear ancient Seneca whisper. No promises, remember? ii Another, then, gone over to the vast advancing army underground Vista after vista—massive as the terracotta warriors of the Emperor Shi—that night they crowd my dreams. My father shakes his pill-minder like a war rattle, then cries when it spills the buttons he put in. Around the corner of my childhood, the tailor with the number on his forearm to whom I brought my mother’s shreds of clothes, brandishes a letter: It’s not too late to make amends with your mother. I startle again from sleep. You hold me closer, and in the generosity of vacation, murmur: “What would be a good dream?” And I invite the leaders of those squadrons—mother, father, uncles, aunts, their friends—to an old-style soporific feast of fat-glistening brisket, roast chicken, stuffed “helzel,” “lokshen kugel.” “What vegetable? Green beans?” “Never!” (Only the translucent onion and celery, the coins of sweet carrot in the soup). “Would our little granddaughter be there?” “No,” I say, “It’s too scary to cross the future with the past.” “Our children?” “Yes, but they’re little.” “Rye bread?” “No, challah!” “Braided? Or section?” “Braided!”—the last word I remember saying.
Author's Note: Regarding the foods mentioned in “The Dead”: “stuffed helzel” is an Ashkenazi Jewish dish, chicken neck skin stuffed with flour, chicken fat, fried onions, etc., sewn up with thread and roasted with a chicken or served in other ways; “lokshen kugel” is a sweet noodle pudding with fruit such as raisins and chopped apples. “Challah,” the traditional Jewish egg bread used especially on the Sabbath and holidays, is “braided,” but it is also baked in loaves made up of five or six “sections.”
Originally published in Natural Bridge No. 20 (Spring, 2009)
©2022 Judy Kronenfeld
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