Sherry Horowitz


She found him kneeling in the fields, digging
past sundown--next to the plow blade, now stuck
between the rows of seed--
wet from rain      and the mud streaked on his face
in long lines     ran down his arms
turned thick on his fingers where he clawed the dirt

Beside him lay a pile of brick and clay shard
remains from a parapet of a tower    or a jug
rich for a golden soup     she would later make
would feed the children      in a small steaming kitchen
whose roof   so many years later   was now
high above the level of the sea

The old heavy bones in his fingers slipped
like tumblers in the yielding earth
to find an urn    splintered planks of a bed-frame
or the brittle tibia of a once slender leg
crumbled to dust in the plow of his palm
as a chrysalis disintegrates      after itís abandoned
the air free of life-sound      muffled
by a pelting palm striking the dirt
fistfuls flung in staccato    a heavy beat of dead-noise

He arched and struck
as if hacking wood with an ax
the chill air lit his puffs of breath
the moonglow     lit a glitter on his wet forehead
and the gold band on his finger
leapt in the dark like a small flame
but the only sound     was a dampened bat
a woman might make to rid her rugs of dust
as she beat them on a high rooftop

the same blood beating now in his rib
in her temples   in her chest     quickened by his sight,
the same pummel of a thousand catapults
that might have rained burning bushels
       of tar on a golden city
that slumbers now    scattered    broken fists
and drums   that no longer pound     lie crushed
and leave behind a sifted slurry      of ash and bone


The soul of man is a lamp of G-d. (Proverbs 20:27)

This filament flickers a filigree of shade
wavers  or threads like a string of beads
or a heavy burden
strung-on, strung-out, slung over
slight rise, slow fall of shoulder.

Chiaroscuro of filament and filigree
cast puzzlement and pleasure for the beaded brow
shifting in, out-shifted, breech the edge
between day and night-

Light falls through
a lace curtain; as it must
flutter in a breeze
to the soft exhale of morning, slow spiral to dusk
we breathe a breath of ages.

The shade is sure of its shape
as it shifts over our bodies
casting shadow of crisscross.

Only the lines in skin grow etched
over a lifetime
overcome soon by new tissue skin,
stretched as veil for web and scar
that are not always apparent;  to parent
this change for a stain-stay, to remain un-bled.

Furled fists are first unscarred
by tight electric wire, that will soon enough
begin its creep-press for pattern;
burn deep and mark black filigree
in flesh that will waver, ebb and swell
in this trick of light, under the smithís cross hand
where only the filament remains the same


The young woman does a thing
that starts with pursed lips
then spreads out wide, cartoon pout
nostrils flaring slightly, while squinting her eyes
and turning her head a bit, side to side.  

Even as she passes a glass cabinet
her features slide for a split second into pose
dormant memory in those muscles
like the flick of a stage light-  a theatrical
transformation of expression, on and off
and on and off again, encore, applause
encore, applause.  Itís no wonder
she hates herself in pictures.

There are those while grooming
who raise their back unnaturally,
neck ramrod, and arch their eyebrows,
quizzically, as if
they are a constant surprise to themselves.

Most entertaining are the ones
in the rear-view mirror of a car
who start out just cleaning
a stray poppy seed from between two front teeth
but they drift off, forgetting
the light is about to turn green

and start mugging;
a sudden burst into hysterical laughter,
head thrown back with a big open grin,
as if they had just been given an Oscar
and Miss America soon gives way to Bond,
James Bond, one raised brow,
chin strong and a sidelong glance
stern stare of such intensity

and a grimace that would intimidate
the worst evil or cause a dame to swoon
soon melts abruptly as they come-to
and peek furtively at nearby cars,
flip their head, run a hand through hair
and casually peer down their nose,
if a bit cross-eyed, and pick a zit.

Sherry Horowitz

Sherry Horowitz is a graphic artist, a mother of four and resides in Rockland County, New York. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Poetry at New England College.



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