Audio: Read by the author.
Oy. One minute you’re chopping liver.
The next, you’re dead. It’s true, bubbeleh.
You do go back to nature.
I can understand frogs
which, by the way, are not bright.
And I dance in a waterfall of light.
Trees talk. Who knew?
They’ve got mouths like Stella Golden who
as you know could talk a beef bone into broth.
The grief of crows is deep, not
like the kvetchy cry of dybbuks
on the prowl. Oh, and now I fly.
Well, in a way. Just my soul,
thank God. I’d hate to have to drag
this tuckus through the air. There’s harps
which I don’t care much for. By me,
they make a skvitching in the head.
But a little gossip with the other dead,
that I like. We sometimes soothe our longing
with a mitzvah for the living
when we can. The state of things
isn’t good. But sheifele, my sweet,
it is not too late to repair.
True, the angels seem a little oysgeshpilt
and God’s all talk, but what else is new?
This world was not created for despair.
Remember when we baked that honey cake
for just the two of us to eat
then called the whole mishpachah in?
How firm it was, my sheyne meydl. How dark it was.
Laura Budofsky Wisniewski is the author of Sanctuary, Vermont (forthcoming from Orison) and How to Prepare Bear (Redbird). She is winner of the 2020 Orison Poetry Prize, the 2020 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, and the 2019 Poetry International Prize.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.