Memento Mori

Chana Bloch

“God blessed you with curly hair,”
my mother used to say
and dressed me like Shirley Temple.On my bare scalp, Australia,
a birthmark that hid
in the thicket of my hair.Unblessed in a downburst, I lost
my leafy summer, my lovely,
my crest, my crown.I sleep in a flannel nightcap.
My wig sleeps in a closet,
comb and brush in a drawer.I wake to a still life—
a clock that marks the hour
before it strikes.No skull on my desk.
Just a face in the mirror,
unrecognizable.

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Chana  Bloch

Chana Bloch (1940-2017) was a poet, translator, scholar, and teacher. She was the author of five books of poems, six books of translation from Hebrew poetry, ancient and contemporary, and a critical study of George Herbert. She was Professor Emerita of English Literature and Creative Writing at Mills College, where she taught for many years and directed the Creative Writing Program.

“These poems, fashioned with compact power and formal elegance, are a luminous demonstration of how poetry can be the vehicle for both confronting our darkest fears and yet continuing to affirm the preciousness of life.”
—Robert Alter

“Each page verifies the beauty and scope and surge of a life both extraordinary and daily, embraced not in spite of our mortality, but because of it.”
—Jane Hirshfield

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