A Literary Magazine in Support of the Jewish Community

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Two Poems by Elizabeth J. Coleman

To the Performer

If you want the music

to touch listeners,

picture your grandfather

among them:


Monday night's House Doctor

at the Metropolitan Opera,

Toscanini’s physician,


who declared one time,

in an offhand sort of way,

you played the cello well.


Let him sit by your grandson,

as he often does

when you perform.


And in that parallel universe

scientists seek, where fifty years

between when one life ended

and the other began, have been erased,


your grandfather

will take your grandson's hand.


The children play with toy boats

in their bath, unaware


their ancestors escaped by sea

allowing them to sit in this white enamel tub,


imagining voyages of their own.

When it's time, I'll take all four


to Berlin. Where Stolpersteine,

emblazoned with the names


of Jews deported or killed, stand

watch in front of stolen homes.


Where the brass shines

on the New Synagogue at dusk,


lighting up Berlin's dark sky.

But for now, I'll let them be,


children of innocent slumber,

of harmless tantrums,


still learning somersaults,

the rhythm of their breathing


and their hearts

quick, like other small mammals.

Elizabeth J. Coleman

Elizabeth J. Coleman is the editor of Here: Poems for the Planet (Copper Canyon Press, 2019). She is the author of two poetry collections published by Spuyten Duyvil Press (Proof and The Fifth Generation) and translated the sonnet collection Pythagore, Amoureux into French (Folded Word Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in a number of journals, including Colorado Review, Rattle, and Bellevue Literary Review, and in several anthologies. She has also written two chapbooks. Elizabeth received an MFA from Vermont College of Arts in 2012 after a career as a public interest attorney. She is a teacher of mindfulness as well.


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