9/13/22 Workshop – A Poem by Quan Barry

Author Quan Barry biography and book list

Someone once said we were put on this earth to witness and testify


Nowhere    in   the     Halakha’s     five   thousand   years   of   rules

does   it     specifically    state    Thou     shall     not     [                      ]

but     sometimes    tradition    carries    more     weight    than    law


and   so   for    much   of   the    past    year   we    have   not    talked

about     what    will    happen    on     Thursday,    how   the    cervix

will     start     its     slow    yawn,     the     pelvic      floor     straining


as         the           head        crowns,      the      fontanelles     allowing

the       bony        panes       of       the      skull     to      pass    through

until,     over    the   next    24   months,    the   five   cranial   plates


gradually      ossify,     the      head      forming    its     own    helmet

as     structures     harden    over   the    soft    meats   of  the  brain,

nor     do   we    talk   about    the   colostrum  sunny  as egg   yolks


now   collecting  in   your   breasts,   the    thing’s   first   nutrients

already    ready    and    waiting,    the     event    just    days   away

and   still  we  do  not  talk  about it, the mass growing inside you


tucked    up    safe     in   the     leeward   side    under    the   heart

because   sometimes   our   god   is   a  jealous god,   the evil   eye

lidless    and    all-seeing.  Instead  we  will wait  until  it is  done,


until  the  creature  has been  cleaned and wrapped in soft cloth,

the    bloody     cord   that    binds    you    severed.    And   maybe

you       will      name      it      Dolores,      which       means     grief,


or perhaps you will call it Mara, the Hebrew name for bitterness

because       this      is      how     we      protect     what     we    love,

by   hiding   what  it   truly  means  to   us,  the little  bag  of  gold


we    keep   buried   in  the  yard,   the  thing  we will do anything

to      keep      safe,      even    going     so      far    as    to     pretend

it    doesn’t    exist,   that   there’s   nothing  massing in  the  dark


despite  the steady  light  emanating  from  your  face, a radiance

so bright sometimes I can’t look at you, the joy so  overpowering

you     want    to     shout   it     from   the    highest    mountaintop


straight into God’s ear.


Reflective writing prompt:
Shout about an overpowering joy
Protecting what we love

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