blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Charm Against a Broken Tongue

I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.
—Czeslaw Milosz

When words erased the need for ink,
blank pages fluttered like a winding sheet
and mamaloshen crumbled into dust.
Translation. The mother tongue smelled of a room:
unopened prayer shawls pinned upon the wall
like linen butterflies. Aleph and bet
took wing as raven-messengers, letters
with claws too blunt to tear into the world.
To touch the dead is treyf. To touch dead verse,
what then? What of the Edelshteins who shout
their poetry in languages that fade
in direct light? This Hall of Oddities—
the yad points toward a book that isn’t there,
a silver finger gesturing at night. 

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