Do you talk to yourself
with compassion? No. It’s a chopped-
down forest in here
with axes dressed in worms’ clothes wriggling through once-whole
Gutted burl. Stupid girl.
Are you listening? I keep talking
to myself with the mauled tenacity of phlox: You will live,
you will rise,
shooting past tree roots, flash
of purple petals despite toddler palms
whose leaves they mangle; the foot of a sot
with Boones and butts to step aside the high
I once saw a girl standing watch over a pageant
of weeds. Save the flowers! she yelled.
I think I am my savior’s thoughts, the stubborn beautiful ones
who refuse to go. It’s a temple in here
though I do not know
the prayers. Ganesha trumpets his long trunk, curls infinities
round my waist. I shrink
in his grace. My neighbor Bina says, Fix yourself
to what you believe in, center yourself on Him.
In here God wants to be
a woman. See her flaunting rage red as Kali’s tongue.
Rage makes me small, numb
as burnt taste buds. I keep talking
here in the dumb hope that words can turn
to flesh. Here in my ear is Sita burning burning
lotus incense, sensate mother-love, skin-to-skin
teaching. Her arms round
mine lined with off-rhymes: Sadness. Sickness. Hopeless Chorus.
Worthless. Less. Less of yourself. No.
If you are still listening, forgive me.
BARBARA SCHWARTZ is the author of two books of poetry, a chapbook Any Thriving Root (dancing girl press, 2017) and the collaborative collection Nothing But Light with poet, Krista Leahy (forthcoming from Circling Rivers 2022). A finalist for the 1913 Poetry Prize and Barrow Street Book Prize, her hybrid poetry manuscript What Survives is the Fire was selected for Boomerang Theater’s First Flight New Play, and has been included in The University of Miami’s Holocaust Theater Catalog. Her poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Upstreet, Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, Carolina Quarterly, Quiddity, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Potomac Review, MAYDAY Magazine, and elsewhere. Barbara is an education consultant and lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY.
ROSABEL ROSALIND was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. In 2017, she received her BFA in printmaking, painting, and drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Rosabel has been included in group exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center, and the Jewish Museum of Maryland. In 2018, Rosabel was a recipient of a Fulbright Austria Combined Grant, where she did research at the Jewish Museum Vienna in their Schlaff Collection of anti-Semitic objects and postcards. As a result of this work, Rosabel has exhibited in solo exhibitions at Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier and Improper Walls Gallery. Rosabel is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University.