Yael Veitz is a New York-based poet and editor of Clio: The Journal of the Brooklyn College Historical Society. Both her historical interests and her poetry reflect a geographically diverse background, an insatiable wanderlust, and, occasionally, her love for her cats.
City of earth, of sleeping souls
Holding our shared ancestors as if in a cradle, under the mountain steps.
Do not inter the living.
Do not crush your inhabitants under broken cobblestones, blanketing them with thin,
White dust as they sleep.
You bury. It is your calling. You deaden their hearts, let them cast stones at each other
At the bus stop.
The flimsy fence between them, strewn with garbage, becomes another monument
To the dead.
You are all gravestones. You are cracked walls, broken pavement, warning signs and
Scarlet declarations gashed into centuries-old walls.
I slog up your steps,
Sneak into both halves of your great tomb, and feel the great sleep coming over me.
Eyelids heavy with weeping,
I almost curl up on the carpet at the mothers’ feet.
If the city has ears, they must be here, in the women who carried me.
So I murmur to them.
They incline their heads to me–Sarah, Rivkah–toss their soft braids over my shoulder,
Their ears a great desert expanse,
Their wombs puckered, leathern.
I try to tell them.
I try to tell them about the stones, the swastikas;
About the thick glass between our two halves, and the bullets that put it there;
About the girl who slashed her wrists to ribbons, wound those around her throat.
I try to tell them–Sarah, Rivkah–
Beg them to shake the earth,
To level the trenches,
To forget old jealousies.
But my words come out in squeaks–only one word, many times:
Just please, and please, and please–
Yael can be found via Facebook.