Margo Berdeshevsky




Again the cradle, the bough breaks, the cradle
quiet, while lions wear their war weeds, bury silence,
quiet, while a child in stains screams — everything,

everything here smells like the gas!
her propeller hands like trapped rabbits, twitching,

my hair, mouth, breasts —look!
her tiny fingers try

cracking......the bough,......collapsing......the cradle—
look! my grandmother's bracelets all buried

Look, no face!.....Look, it's morning.
Look, it's God.....In Gaza.

Bandwagons lined for each abject word—
where wheels don't stop exploded infants' fists,

mother-skulls lost, lost mornings—

Brave holy land war.
Bright. Sun-split.

Where the bough has killed its cradle.

Bright. Sun-lit ash.

Its inexcusable shroud, rocking.


They swept the dead like loosened crumbs from their fingertips.
Claws, curled. Brushed the dust, swallowed handfuls, hungry.

Invented noise— in all that silence.


An egg in her tiny right hand, blinded, angel-child, she—was what was left of what had finished. Small-winged cataract, not much more. Killed

cradles and skins and old men and kissing —all stopped. Egg in her sweaty small right
hand. That hatchling meant for morning. Morning meant for saving. Or yet another prophet.

—Prove it.


She stole an egg
from the beast's bed — reeking, heaving nest builder.
Stepped blind, like vengeance. A cinder, empty eyed.
Hovered like a cloud of summer wasps.
Shifted like a gaunt lighthouse into
promise across all slaughter.
Reached. — Held it.

What emerged bit her. What cracked its shell
licked her. What emerged, wanted her.

—To do it all again.


It didn't happen that way. She held the egg she'd stolen from God's nest and He whispered to her: good riddance to it and to you. See if you can do any better with this one.

I tried and I'm tired of making eggs. Believe you stole it if that makes you feel brave or
dangerous. Blessings. He showed his teeth.

It never— mattered, which came first, the God, or the mother, or the egg. Go ahead, my good thief. Go ahead, my bad angel. Bless. Happy morning. She held the warm oval.

Held the breaking, mottled, hot ellipse. Couldn't remember — why. — Breathed it. Waited to feel a nervous thin-skinned thrum. One heartbeat.

She held it for such a long winter.

Hyacinths were blooming in January. Snows froze them, washed them. Still, she held it.

Her eye, like the promise she finally remembered, — but from whom? — on a sparrow.

( for Gaza/ January 2009 )

Margo Berdeshevsky has published a poetry collection, But a Passage in Wilderness (Sheep Meadow Press, 2008), and two books are forthcoming: a novel, Vagrant (Red Hen Press), and a volume of illustrated short tales, Beautiful Soon Enough (Fiction Collective Two) recipient of the FC2 Ronald Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize. Other honors include the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her writing has appeared in AGNI, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, New Letters, Poetry International, Poetry Daily, Nimrod, Si├Ęcle 21, Rattapallax, and elsewhere. A Tsunami Notebook of her documentary photographs and poems—made after work at a survivors' clinic in Aceh, Sumatra, in spring 2005—can be seen online. Berdeshevsky currently lives in Paris.

(author retains copyright)