Yael Shinar

Yael Shinar

in my old age I have become

In my old age I have become

something like the battalions who wore ironwork clasps round their
hearts and steel on their brows.

In my old age, old whale, old island turtle

etchings seem wise investments

not to hang

but to get to know the wrist

a solitary lovemaking

to time

One thing that passes steadily by me

is my appetite

for others' appetites

the strong coddling the stronger

a survival that trees know only as shade

the hours of

the absent world. Would they stretch

for life? down?

Contrary to

ancients' imagination

of the future

I have a life

language has not become

sublimely simple

it has stayed

since the genitive clause made mammals

complex and


How the world began

on a fingertip already pointed?


has been misspoken

diction has tricked us

to look at ourselves

welcome me, now

Welcome me, now,
I never left,
you never mourned,
and then undressed.

Your new clothes, linen,
strange and cold,
ask no secrets
or burdens.

Take them off again. Remember
me. You expected my
fingers, all over. The way my eyes rested,
your shoulder.

But we are comfortable, our flesh
cringing. Summer sealed my pores,
but my feet
carry discreetly
the bottom of a river.

Like something irreverent
burying me. No great exhaustion
mine alone.

If you touch me, I have an edge,
the same as yours. Everywhere I go, the world
has also been.

I have a house, see the wide walls. The plot
with a garden and a path. Every object
is a symbol. Every breath,
a death.

there is not much time left

There is not much time left.
Somebody's hands are shaking,
all she sees around her are prophets
and strangers.

Her son is dead. Her cousin is dead. Her army tastes
like the sweet blood of her son's papercut.
Her daughter's eyes, too wide.

There is not enough time left.

Death is ugly,
my skin is
hardly a barrier.

I imagine myself tremble

at a phone call
myself falling
on linoleum
among peers.

I pass a crushed bird on my way to the car.
Some days mud covers it.
Others, the rain has washed the mud away.

It resembles dust,
only the pale pink claw still reptilian.
No one picks it up.
No one moves it from the mud and the lot.

How many limbs equal this bird,
where the dust is closer to skin color
than crow color?
Where we cannot suck away the blood,
we cannot kiss away the blood.
Our garbage cans are full.

Death is ugly.
Some of us can cry.

Others have to pick up the bodies,
wrap them, put them in a place
where the dust matches


Somebody makes reference to the sound
of a four year old girl's
pelvis, cracking.
That is the best thing,
they say, about her,
about fucking her.

She does not know that sound.
If you ask
in twenty years
whether she has ever been raped, why
she cannot have children,
why she swivels a little
when she walks,
she will say,
No. I don't know.
I don't know.

These are not our fathers,
these are not our brothers
who bled us into earth,
tore us into skin
from mothers' wombs
like cancerous nubs.
Why, every time,
we are surprised at the fall—

we hear that noise,
a small part of us breaks,
we weave a little
off balance.

After the rape scene on stage,
we do not howl together.
In the bathroom at intermission
we do not hold each other.
I cannot look in your eye.
I let myself live
in this world.

It is just us
in line, in the stalls,
washing our hands.

One clasps her husband's wrists.
One puts her arms over her child's torso
to remind her this story is now
not hers.

These are not our fathers,
these are not our brothers.

This, we can say.


           whispered: “Who dares to believe he will be saved twice?”
                                             —Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

When blades of grass push water into fiber with scratchy tongue,
when the yellow sun obeys the ozone and spares retina, saved
while dry leaves succumb to their more seasonal mortality, saved
throughout the long period, saved
           enough to notice process
first the leaf reddens, then gathers inward, dry, then lets go, before,
           somewhere unseen, one molecule lets go another
so that the name becomes a verb
and the past becomes the past — saved
verbs like bridges tell me my small mind
has been alive so long in my saved body.
Kinds of grief:
who dares occasion
who dares imagine
she will be able to say,
“The first time I was saved
I was so scared
when the phone rang — or did I call? ”

“The second,
the second time I — since then I take long walks in daylight; this
           signifies thanks. Since then, I am walking
not called upon —
I was saved,
I painted earthen walls around my heart; I let in air unfiltered to fill
           my heart's chamber with gravity, dirt,
because I knew, I remembered, to be saved is to flee — forever —
or was I caught?
The rings of the phone weaving a basket
of reeds —”

Imagine if Moses
had been conscious
the first time he was found?
would he have dared himself to hear
on a mountain?