Monday, April 02, 2012

New Poetry by Rachel Barenblat


You're on fire beneath my lips,
hot as the coal that Moshe grabbed
when the angel forced his hand.
As we rock in the dark
I want to pray for healing
but I'm muddled with sleep.
I sing to you in two holy tongues.
You whimper. My eyes are closed
but I have known your face
since it first appeared, blurred
and grainy, on the ultrasound screen.
When I replace you on cool sheets
you cry out once and then curl
clutching yellow bunny in one hot hand.
The white noise machine croons.
What do your fever dreams show you?
How long will you remain a furnace,
incandescent in my arms
and exhausted from the burning?

- Rabbi Rachel Barenblat 2012


you wake in your crib's embrace
from the dream of a distant heartbeat

a voice says cry out!
and you cry out

bewailing the tragedy of separation
until I gather you to my breast

glowing numbers shift silently
and your desperation eases

someday you'll learn to fumble soft stars
into their places

to nuzzle your giraffe
and count adinkra like talismans

but for now I am consolation
I make the rough places plain

- Rabbi Rachel Barenblat 2012

Rachel's first book-length collection of poems, 70 faces, was published by Phoenicia Publishing in January of last year. 70 faces is a collection of poems written in response to Torah. Rachel is also author of four chapbooks of poetry, and her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, among them Phoebe, The Jewish Women's Literary Annual, and The New Orleans Review. Rachel holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and was ordained as a rabbi by ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Today she lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and son.


Stuart Barnes said...


i return, return to fever:

it's exquisite

rbarenblat said...

Thank you, Stu! I'm honored.