Friday, October 28, 2011

Poem of the Week: Jane Seitel

Jane Seitel

Suspension of Disbelief

I wake into yet another day of doubt

creeping in as ants through a warped doorjamb.

The morning news brings new atrocities

as I pour milk neither sweet nor sour into the memorial

glass. At breakfast, I read the morning paper.

The Jordan becomes a cesspool, which may run dry given

another year. Half a century of buried landmines

seed her weedy banks, rank pottage strewn

by us, by them, exploding at the lightest step.

Yesterday's fragments shattered the leg of some poor

boy. The radio drones a politician's promises

of peace. While I make my roux, waves bite stagnant air,

on Av's first Friday. It will take chemistry, not miracles,

to proof this challah. I don't believe in miracles, though

in my pre-dawn dream, Elisha visits, bald prophet

who filled empty sinkholes with water and quenched our thirst,

Elisha who sweetened Ein Es-Sultan's poisoned spring.

Now Naaman the Syrian general comes bent, moaning,

greaves cast off, javelin fallen, his skin leprous scabs.

Elisha disobeyed a mighty king: Let him come to me,

and he will learn there is a prophet in Israel. Elisha ordered

Naaman immerse seven times in the Jordan, his savaged

lesions healed, the warrior's body salvaged.

Then in my dream, I see his face; the shattered boy

of yesterday's news. The prophet holds a stick in his left hand,

a prosthetic olive branch. He touches the leg, birthing new bones.

The calf becoming muscular, the thigh again a pillar.

Then in an ordained gesture, Elisha throws the branch deep

into bucking whirlpools, as from the Jordan's silted throne

a mason's ax emerges, bucking on the eddies. On the shore

Solomon's temple rises, beside it a domed mosque rises

from a severed branch-from these ceded waters.

-Jane Seitel

Used by permission.

Jane Seitel is an Expressive Arts Therapist, (Lesley University), who has recently completed her MFA in Poetry at Drew University. Her poetry has appeared in Bridges, Poetica, Prairie Schooner, Midstream, and is forthcoming in The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. She is the 2010 recipient of The Charlotte Newberger Prize for Poetry. She has worked with children, adults and animals in the spirit of tikkum olam, and has just finished her first poetry manuscript.

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