Andrea Addante CC
Planting language in the sand
I am dreaming about sleep
but not sleeping
in seach of pistachio lokum
I settle into stonefruits
I want to show you poetry is the only way out
I mean something else entirely
I am staying in the Jewish quarter of the old city
eating olives with my lover
we share a courtyard with a tourist who is telling everyone
he is writing a novel
I am telling everyone this place is trying to kill us
I am writing a book about silence
I’ve told no one
I need to write but the novelist
has spread his novelist things across our only table
I am in search of a café and an old man tells me he knows one
as I turn the corner to follow
the old man slides his old hands up my shirt
and all I am thinking is
how it takes
I am searching for a reason
in the ancient stone
brick by brick
I am fantasizing that I have removed it all
the Jerusalem Stone
while the city was sleeping
and I have buried it deep
in the desert
where the land splits open like a confession
but what if I replaced it all with another stone
would that new stone become Jerusalem Stone
but the heart of a city should not be a stone
I am searching for shelter from the relentless sun
and I am thinking about trauma
I mean, aren’t you?
I mean is anyone sleeping?
I am thinking about my family
how we’ve carried a dead language across oceans
because where could we safely put it down
Quien no sabe de mar, no sabe de mal
I am writing the archaeology of silence
my lover calls it alchemy
to take a disappeared thing
and love it like you can see it
and I think we could
My tiny New York apartment is getting tinier. Incrementally. You probably wouldn’t even
notice it, but it startles me. I am suddenly much closer to things that were always close but not like
Today it seems as though my body were touching everything all at once. I ask the apartment
if it is shrinking. It says it is not. I ask it if it would like a glass of water. No, it would not.
I search online to see if anyone else has experienced the sensation of their own home constricting
around them but all I find are articles about anxiety and living in crowded cities. That’s not it
I buy a large area rug on Wayfair. It’s beautiful and brightly colored in mostly warm tones. I find this
soothing. The pattern appears Turkish and reminds me of me my grandparents. This too, soothes
I measured it so that it fits the entire floor of the studio perfectly, its edges gently pressing the base
of the wall. It feels scientific. I have never done anything that feels scientific.
I climb into bed which is really a cloud and am swallowed into sleep. I wake to find the edges of the
rug curled over me. I like how warm I am between the rug and the cloud. I knew you were miniaturizing
I tell the apartment.
It replies, But don’t you like how warm you are between the rug and the cloud? I nod but insist it is not
sustainable. At this, the studio constricts again. My cloud is now a single pillow and the rug is
impossibly thick wallpaper.
My plants have all fled in the way that birds and animals migrate when there is danger. I want to flee
but I also want to see just how far this will go.
I want to name this beast. It tries to reason with me. This catches me off guard and my response is
to bare my teeth. It sighs. I hiss.
It pulls me closer and asks if it is true that all living things grow. I say it is true, but what–
It asks if I am growing. I believe that I am, perhaps not physically anymore but emotionally, I think.
It tells me it too has the right to grow, does it not?
After so many have settled and crowded into in its creaking body, doesn’t it too deserve the chance
to be more? This seems absurdly reasonable in a way that makes me want to coo at it and feed it
sliced bananas and peeled grapes.
But why are you shrinking, I cry! Why aren’t you growing?
I didn’t have the space to grow, so I grew the other way. It suddenly revealed hands that were rivers and these
river hands gestured to show how it grew in instead of out. I nod.
The ceiling is pressed up to my head. I feel it breathe. Its breath is sweet but sad. I didn’t know
space could be sad. It tells me it is not. it tells me that it feels more at home in itself than ever
I did not know that a home could not feel at home in itself. I wonder how I could feel at home in a
home that did not feel at home in itself.
It is ready to be alone. I nod.
I gather my things which are now just a few almonds, a lone succulent, and detangler. I hold my
shoes in my hand and slip out slowly, gently kissing the door behind me.
Erin Mizrahi is an emerging poet, educator, co-founder and director of Cobra Milk, a monthly reading and music series featuring emerging and established voices. She is a member of Brooklyn Poets, Asylum Arts, and a 2019 Inquiry Fellow with the Institute for Jewish Creativity. Erin is also a former Shoah Foundation fellow with the Center for Advanced Genocide Research. As an academic and a poet, her writing has centered around trauma and the many manifestations and possibilities of trauma narratives. She is an adjunct at CUNY Hunter College where she teaches English. Erin has also taught at Brooklyn College, Fordham University, and the University of Southern California.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.