Image credit: Lisa Namdar Kaufman. Used with permission.
Image credit: Lisa Namdar Kaufman. Used with permission.

Listen to the voice of Lisa Namdar Kaufman reading her poem, March

Karkur Junction, one hour north of Tel Aviv, March 2023.

My left eye is a puddle
of blood. Thursday morning,
I woke up that way.
My husband took my
blood pressure. Stop talking
he said which made me laugh
and the digital cuff flash
Error.           Relax
he said which made my heart
beat harder.

Friday evening and the blood’s still
pooling. I will see a doctor and he (or
she but let’s be real, most likely he) will
ask, Are you stressed? Under pressure?
Am I stressed.
Democracy is collapsing,
my mother’s breast cancer has marched
into the meningeal lining of her brain, we won’t talk
about my father now, because none of that
is new. It’s 85 degrees on the first of March and I
can’t get the smell out. Skunk and cowshed
still wafting from the water cannon
that doused us ten minutes from home.

They rolled the big guns
across the highway. I’d heard
these cannons hurt,
often shot straight
into crowds, knocking people down and
tearing at their clothes. But
on Wednesday night the police aimed high
and let the foul water
rain on us – then rushed
the intersection
to open it to traffic
and let the cars pass, let
the people home. It was rush
hour and the sun set and
the migrating birds flew
in great black v’s across
the dusky sky. The water sprayed.
A 400 meter range.
A yelp went up, a collective holler,
an instinctual retreat, but then we —
the protesters, returned. We did not yield
to the forces charged with clearing us.

My mother is ready for more chemo,
she had ruled it out before, the potential
side effects of this particular poison too much
to bear. But that was before
the latest scans and mapping. Before
the disease raced up the spinal thoroughfare.

I am trying hard to understand
the legislative process of my adopted home.
Three readings they say. The bill is read
three times and voted on three times
to make it law. That sounds silly, but
it won’t be silly the morning after.

I am envisioning the shiva. We will rend
our clothes and all sit down
on the hot asphalt
and mourn.

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Lisa Namdar Kaufman is an American Israeli writer, filmmaker, and translator whose written work has appeared in numerous journals including Quarterly West, MARGIE: Journal of American Poetry, Fox Cry Review, and the SMEOP Anthology, HOT. She teaches for Gotham Writers’ Workshop and earned a BA from Brown University and an MFA from Columbia.

Photo credit: Author


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