Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Way I Scream
I scream the scream of a newborn baby.
—Yehuda Amichai

I am a licked-over bone thrown into a side street,
with blood still drying behind my belly button.
I’ve the dignity of someone standing next to a garbage can.
When all I want to do is take off my clothes
and sleep with strangers who chance by this walkway,
trees stir with sparrows taking flight, showing me where I must go,
preparing me for something dumb and heroic.
The most ordinary acts of love make me lose my confidence completely:
a child called to the dinner table, a ghost to Providence
still redolent of a place in the world it was loved in,
mostly corn silk, bugs, and lightning showers
that crash while kissing each other, like a couple arguing in Russian,
who in flinging a dinner plate across the room
are all the more thoroughly pierced by Cupid’s arrow.
Among gas lines and stacks of newspaper,
in a train station in Vienna, I first found your handprint on my heart,
a map that would take me to the steppes of central Asia,
to sleeping cars suspended over the Volga River like sugar drops
about to fall into the devouring mouth of my love for you,
to settlements where a Jew looks at an Arab
and sees herself, and tables are pushed together
and remain covered with tablecloths laid out only on special occasions
that I can see when I close my eyes and call your name,
to everywhere other girls lie awake at night
thinking about what is happening to them—and why is it that an ancient loss
can suddenly throw open the shutters of a solitude
passed on to us at birth, without anyone realizing; the following day fits
into my hands like the broken handle of a coffee pot,
burning faintly. Incapable of making a different kind of sound
or stifling my absurd way of loving—cross my heart
and hope to die—I climb into a taxicab and you begin to fall around me,
a few snowflakes milling under half-lit streetlamps.