Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Her Hands

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Her hands
open on her lap
empty and

motionless
palms facing up
as in

prayer
pale lines leading
nowhere

and a ragged
lifeline
that tells

one great lie
Littlest
spirit she

carried and
could not
protect

from what
from whom
in the darkened

warm room where
baby breaths
hovered

promising
themselves
in the narrow and

precarious
world
suddenly

gone
The debate
as to how

or if
one recovers
raging in whispers

in every corner
beside the empty
stroller above

the empty
crib
within

emptied and
terrified hearts
and she

is as
small
as still

and silent
as the baby girl
who was

tenderly rocked
to sleep
and then

never
woke up


Rachel Tzvia Back is an Israeli poet whose work includes the collections Litany and Azimuth, as well as pieces published in The American Poetry Review, Tikkun, Modern Poetry in Translation and Dreaming the Actual: Contemporary Fiction and Poetry by Israeli Women Writers. Her newest work is entitled The Buffalo Poems, a book-length series tracking the cycle of violence defining the lives of Israelis and Palestinians during these last years. American-born, Back writes in English but has lived in Israel for 25 years, where she and her husband are raising three children ages 14, 11, and 6. You can read Literary Mama’s profile of her here.


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