Archival Photo – Devon Balwit

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Archival Photograph

A trayful of wedding rings, pulled from fingers,
clusters like grain heads, like seeds, a reversal
of planting, the harvesting first, death’s scythe

mowing down Jew mommas and Jew poppas,
but saving the seed-gold, gilt to be re-smelted,
a trayful of wedding rings, pulled from fingers.

Someone snaps a photograph, either liberators
or prison guards, thinking it fit to document
before planting, the harvest first, the death scythe,

either shivering at the malevolence or thrilling
to it—people do this to one another—
a trayful of wedding rings, pulled from fingers.

Later, we look, imagining the chuppah, the blessing,
two souls, leaning into the future—their children—
planted, harvested first by death’s scythe.

The gold rings clatter against one another.
Their hollows keen, rattling us with their song
of wedding rings pulled from fingers,
of that planting, that harvest, that death scythe.

Shadows’ Shadow

The young Netflix Chasid chews
coffee-powder from a tin, burns

his palms with matches, sets his feet
in ice water to keep alert, studying

his God, more to him than sleep,
mind a louder clarion than the body.

If I imagine this hyperbole, I stand
corrected, reading of Winckelmann

and Wolf, German academicians
who slept but two nights a week

for half a year and that with bricks
tied to their ankles so the slightest shift

might jolt them from dreams
back to the mastery of the ancients.

For all my passion, I’m but a dilettante,
writing mere hours a day, then tucking

into eiderdown at dusk, earplugs muffling
noise, CBD oil dampening discomfort.

I commit little to memory, facts
the effort of a finger when I have need.

What comes easily leaves the same,
my god lower-case, paying

a brief social call, diffident
to invisibility, and quickly gone.

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