To My Critics
You always write the same poem,
but perhaps you always read it
with the same eyes.
No one talks like that, revealing me
stranger than I knew, even my voice
calling me out.
I don’t want to think, I want to feel,
and thus were whole villages razed
to the ground.
I don’t believe it, leaving the poem
empty, a church
without its god.
but the sentences are well-crafted,
as if the bowl’s beauty made up for
the rancid meal.
I look forward to seeing more;
careful—I will send them through
your window with a rock.
Are the Jews people?
blares the Alt-Right headline,
and I, a Jew, giggle,
wrong, I know,
but there’s something obscene
in the wondering,
a question as beyond the pale
as when my daughter climbed
into a stranger’s lap,
fingered her chin mole,
and asked if she was Baba Yaga.
What can one do
but spew bitter laughter
at a world spinning backward
into cautionary fable
recalling photographs from the camps,
all swollen joints and staring eyes
captured through wire,
the accounts of experimentation,
of sly survival,
of escaping the bullet
at the lip of the open pit?
I poured over those photographs
from an armchair in suburbia,
grandchild of those who escaped.
Now in my lifetime,
I must worry about my children,
about the race magic in our blood
that calls forth pogroms.
Are we people? seems a question
akin to wondering if the sun
needs encouragement to rise
or the devil lives in a sneeze.
What about us awakens doubt?
Devon Balwit is a teacher/poet from Portland, OR. She has two chapbooks: how the blessed travel (Maverick Duck Press) & Forms Most Marvelous (forthcoming with dancing girl press). Her work has found many homes, some of which are: The Cincinnati Review, The Stillwater Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Red Earth Review, Timberline Review, Poets Reading the News, The NewVerse News, The Ekphrastic Review.