Wendy Brown-Baez - words to light our way
The Nanny’s Gift
 
The Star of David resembles a golden
heart, the letters chai
engraved in silver. The gentle conviviality 
of the High Holy Days.
 
I hold Daniel on my lap, our photo is
taken with a flash, my shirt gleams white against my
darkened skin, my hair shining and long
like my grief. Daniel is too young
 
to know I am leaving him.
When I open the box, his mother says,
This is to bring you back to us.
She has another child growing, a girl,
 
she has considered an abortion
but she thinks of her baby in my
capable hands, caring for her
the way I care for Daniel.
 
My own sons are ten and eleven,
independent, riding bikes, speaking Hebrew
like one of the tribe, sneaking cigarettes,
admiring guns when friends take us to the army base.
 
It is too late for Eliana to have the abortion;
she is resigned but she will be happy,
I know this. Every morning I pick Daniel
up at 7:05 sharp but we are a family
 
about to be broken. The day after Yom Kippur
I will fly back to the States. Letters dwindle
and photos curl into 
boxes. One night I wear the Magen David—
 
when I get home it is missing. Is it an omen?
When I remove my dress, it is there, clinging
to my pantyhose.
My hopes rise again.
 
©--Wendy Brown-Baez

published in the anthology All We Can Hold published by Sage Hill Press 
online version
 

 Tangled Up in You
 
the necessary fire
the necessary birds that fly from
your hands as you weave
your words into my air
 
sitting too close not to touch
but determined that we won’t
unable to pass that last
semi-colon, unable to
break free of the
 
cocooned denial because
the flame might ignite
not only the two of us
and the very room we sit in
but the entire block
 
of neighbors going about their
day, the woman stirring her
vegetables, the laundry spinning
while the young man folds the
first load into neat blue piles
 
the child running up the steps
behind his dog, all burnt
to a shocked crisp.
Now we are tangled in
hidden meanings
 
and secret signals. Words make
sense for a split second
only to dance away at the least
crinkle on your face as you grin
at my unexpected boldness
 
and the blush I am trying so
hard to conceal has landed
in front of us on the shining
surface of the coffee table
and we pretend not to see it.
 
We are attempting to tango
and I am hoping not to
embarrass you by tripping in
my sexy stacked heels, the ones
I wanted you to notice
 
the ones I tucked away
suddenly behind my plain
black skirt.
 
©--Wendy Brown-Baez
from Ceremonies of the Spirit




 


The Day in Baghdad
 
She whispers, “Please, Doctor. My child.
Must be born now.” She is unaccustomed
to begging, unaccustomed to demanding,
her belly swells with life
urging her to push her way
through the streets, the heat,
the dry dust of fear
clogging her throat.
 
He is a doctor. His pledge
to save. A woman
comes to him and
pleads. He frowns.
“Your time is not yet.”
Yes, she nods, frantic--
 
here she places a hand
on his lapel, yanks hard
surprising him with her
sudden strength, sudden
courage—this hand is
ferocious in wanting
what he can give—a birth
 
before the thundering collapse
of the city into rubble
a child’s first breath
in the deadly stillness
before hell erupts and swallows her whole
making her lose her tenacious
grip on
 
giving life to her unborn
child destined to taste his
first milk from breasts
swollen with fear
destined to cry unheard
amongst the wailing of a nation
unable to find
refuge
 
She is not going to leave until
the doctor agrees. She knows the panic
that consumes her
is not as great as
the shattering she expects. She cannot
give birth and shatter
at the same time. One of us
will die, she thinks
 
but it is not actually a thought
only an impulse 
to life. To save her own
and to save her child’s
 
even if they will only be reduced
to bone
in the end.

 © Wendy Brown-Baez
from transparencies of light

Aubade
 
Today I light a candle
and place it in a window
that isn’t yet there and
turn back to the darkness
that hasn’t yet come
 
We have finished dancing
to a song not yet written
or recorded, the air shimmers
with the voices of guests,
people we haven’t met,
perhaps even now you are
receiving a letter
from one of them
signed by a name
you do not recognize
 
Today I light a candle
in the infinite space
between my heart and yours
where winds are
blowing beautifully fierce
and I am no longer
hidden or afraid
 
 

—© Wendy Brown-Báez        

from Unforseen Exhibition at One Tractor Gallery

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