Issue 35, Final Fringe

Fragments from a Nonexistent Yiddish Poet

by Jehanne Dubrow Issue 13 12.01.2007

Ida Lewin (1906–1938)
AlwaysWinter, Poland


I watch the Polish women sell
their wares—ham hocks
and hooves,       blood sausages
strung up like strands of beads,
cakes black with poppy seeds,
and rows of amber honeyjars
where warmth is crystallized,
       refracting like the stained glass
of a church, each liquid ray
so yellow-sweet
I draw my finger through the light.

What freedom in this commerce.
       A woman brushes up against
a man, coins dropping palm to palm,
their contact quick as breath
                        and treif as pork.
There are evenings when I dream
the taste of bacon, the soft whisper
of a stranger’s hand on mine.
His words are salt and sugar,
kosher                            but only in
the sacred law of my own skin.

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Jehanne Dubrow

Jehanne Dubrow

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Jehanne Dubrow was born in Italy and grew up in Yugoslavia, Zaire, Poland, Belgium, Austria, and the United States. She holds a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is the author of three poetry collections, including most recently Stateside (2010). In autumn 2012, Northwestern University Press will publish her fourth book of poems, Red Army Red. Her first book, The Hardship Post (2009), won the Three Candles Press Open Book Award, and her second collection, From the Fever-World, won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Competition (2009). Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, The Promised Bride, in 2007. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Hudson Review, The New England Review, Shenandoah, Gulf Coast, NPR, and many other places.