Bio Note: My fifth full-length book of poetry, Groaning and Singing, came out from FutureCycle Press, this February, with cover art work by Lavina Blossom. I had a wonderful experience at a Zoom launch, thanks to Malaika King Albrecht, my host. I am reading in person and occasionally online in the next few months. Please look for announcements on Facebook.
Next Year in Jerusalem
All night the wind rocks the house, waking me in my thin sleep, like a weary subway rider. There is no-one on the train. The pillars of an express stop ripple past. I sleep again. All night the uncertain moon flickers in the wind, on and off, on and off, even behind closed eyes. Cold suffuses my spine as if it were stroked by a finger; in my mind, my toes, like after-images of the sun, pulse to purple, eclipse to black, then flare again to orange, as I shift position. All that activity in my cells and I don’t want to know about it. Glowing and darkening... When I allow myself to wake fully, it is not surfacing breathless at the place where light breaks on water, but darkness opening to darkness, to the strange house of the exiled child. Nothing to do but walk the hallway to the front door, which stands blown open, as if it had always been. The cat lies calmly, forepaws folded on the cold terrazzo. Nothing to do but look for a moment— as if waiting for the subway doors to close, when the train has paused longer than usual at a deserted stop. Then to turn the lock, to pick the cat up— breathing the cold fur at her neck which smells like snow coming—and return to my exile, like a child whose parents are sleeping, still sleeping.
Originally published in Hiram Poetry Review, 1986.
An invisible visitor slipped in and led you away, as we closed ranks around your bed, thinking at last you’re sleeping, at last some sleep. After we were shouted out in a swirl of white, the grenade of tears bursting in my chest, I came back briefly to admire his clean work: just your chrysalis on the bed, like a drained glass left on a hotel room table. Now I send memory to the well with its cup of bone wanting to fill it to the brim, but the pump is frozen and the water is stone. First you’re not there sitting on the couch, then the couch is gone, the room, the house.
Originally published in Free Lunch, 1998.
After Hearing with My Non-Deaf Ear That It’s “Probably Stable”
Light slides in the waving grasses, like jeweled darning needles repairing the world! And my body-in-the-body, hopeful, rooted, a well of calm water, echoing the deep sky, sends back tiny splashes of joyful fire. And my body-in-the-mind— running, running, running— races talking streams, leaping them on slender branches, wind-flung, and my pilgrim ear scoops up its scallop shell of clear sound. One day, I will be a mirror crazed out of wholeness, one day, a mirror dropped. But now, my body-in-the-mind runs like a silver river over stones, my body-in-the-body, as if healed and then some, tunes in to light’s hum.
Originally published in Passager, 2010.
©2022 Judy Kronenfeld
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