July 16, 2016

Rachel Mennies

In school, the rabbi offered me the word spirit when I asked should I already hate mybody this much?Spirit is a woman who cannot leave a woman.Spirit has weights in her feet that keep her in her body.(Later the rabbi said you’ve asked enough questions for today.)Naomi, I write to you at thirty. I carry around this muscular bag.Shouldn’t each spirit eventually accept her body?I used to grab my inner thighs between my hands and clamp down until the spiritscreamed.I would study my purpling skin while I filled my mouth with gravel.Today I imagine spirit like a woman asleep in a pile of bones.I imagine love like gnawing.I wanted a body equally like and unlike my own and never found her.Do I wear my grief more like a suit or a skirt?My hands shake at the buttons. They struggle with the wire hook-and-eye.When I was a child, the doctor called my hands dainty.He told my mother I had piano fingers. Ones that could span an octave, or cover anentire face in its grip, palm to mouth.If nobody has died, why do I grieve?How do I dress the body I will not meet? How do I dress the body I cannot love?We Jews adorn even the mirror when we mourn.Our bodies become unfathomable.The men and the women wear black for a week, keen from the waist in the widow’sliving room.Every body looks the same for seven nights.When I close my eyes at night, my hands grow to the size of your back.I open my fingers in the silent room, fill the warming space between your shoulderblades.When I close my eyes, Naomi, your body remains covered in light.

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Rachel Mennies is the author of The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards, winner of the 2014 Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry and finalist for a National Jewish Book Award, and the chapbook No Silence in the Fields. Recent poems of hers have appeared in CrazyhorseColorado ReviewBlack Warrior ReviewDrunken BoatPoet Lore, and elsewhere, and have been reprinted at Poetry Daily. Since 2016, Mennies serves as the series editor of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry at Texas Tech University Press. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches at Loyola University Chicago, and is a member of AGNI’s editorial staff.

Adroit Journal January 2019 Cover

January 2019

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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The Adroit Journal (ISSN 2577-9427) was founded in November 2010 by poet Peter LaBerge. At its foundation, the journal has its eyes focused ahead, seeking to showcase what its global staff of emerging writers sees as the future of poetry, prose, and art.

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