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Thursday, March 6, 2014 | return to: lit, first edition


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first edition |  Poetry

by robin ekiss

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First Edition features original works by Northern California Jewish writers. Appearing the first issue of each month, it includes a poem and an excerpt from a novel or short story.


Reading Hebrew

by robin ekiss 


Birds whistle and beat

the back of my throat


when I try to speak the Kaddish,

mistaking the Reader’s


for the Mourner’s, less beautiful

because it doesn’t mention death.


Other than grief, what purpose

is a language without vowels?


I could read only the words,

couldn’t string together a sentence


to save my life. Some meaning

still eludes: going or coming,


how I refuse to touch

the scrolled script


scribbled on the back of my hand

to cheat the cantillations.


When the cantor starts to sing,

something opens inside me:


sparrows circling in the thin high air

around a minaret —  Kaddosh   

 

Kaddosh   

               Kaddosh —


every word real and separate,

her voice indecorously off


to one side of a note

or another trope,


everything I know

attached to a prayer.


9_LITpoetry_ekissRobin Ekiss is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award for emerging women writers, a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford, and author of “The Mansion of Happiness,” which won the Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize and was a finalist for the Northern California and California Book Awards. She serves on the executive committee of Litquake, and lives in San Francisco.


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