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Jewish Journal

Poem: Alphabets

by Carol V. Davis

Posted on Oct. 16, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Graphic from Tatiana53/shutterstock.com

Graphic from Tatiana53/shutterstock.com

I have always believed in the alchemy of letters 
                                  but never in their permanence.
       
Just look how the aleph was stripped of its
rightly earned place to begin the Torah
                                  how the bet is sheltered —
but only on three sides
             so its wind tunnel thrusts the reader forward.
       
                             In Russian the silent letters gather in the cheek like
             magic pebbles waiting to drop from the tongue. And the chutzpah

of English, its misleading spelling. Tell me, how can anyone
                                      ever learn it?

I have returned to America, but my dreams are a kite whose tail is strung with
                    alphabets of all these languages and when I awaken

to the Morse Code of birds in the oak tree I do not know
how to translate this into prayer.


Carol V. Davis is the author of “Between Storms” (Truman State University Press, 2012). She won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry for “Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg,” 2007.

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