A Literary Magazine in Support of the Jewish Community

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"Braids" by Leonard Kress


According to the Talmud, God braided

Eve’s hair for her wedding. He served

as Adam’s groomsman, too, though I doubt

he made any ball & chain jokes—before the Fall

at least…. And yes, if they had a garden

wedding, there must have been a steamy wedding night—


every position given a made-up name that endless night

by Adam, with Eve’s input, of course. He unbraided

her hair slowly, as if each strand was a garden

snake released, there not to destroy but to serve

the cause of love, the abyss they so easily fell

into. The Talmud expresses no doubt


about this. Put aside all those doubts

about immodesty, decency, lady-of-the night

attire and fashion, the judgment that will fall

upon you, if you adorn yourself or braid

your hair. You do not serve

that master, who never halted mid-day in the garden


to note the sunlight dripping through the garden

leaves, splashing over, eradicating doubt

that this moment is in the service

of all others. That this night

beginning with two tight French braids

which swing in the breeze and fall


effortlessly down her back and will fall

along with her to the damp garden

floor. And the tips of those braids,

curling like question marks of doubt

will soon unravel—a way to prolong the night.

I remember, when we first met, how undeserving


I felt in her presence, how all nature served

our cause and how quickly I fell

in love, perhaps that very night

as we strolled, sloshing through the village gardens,

flooded that summer. The one thing I didn’t doubt,

as I touched and took in the bound-in scent of her braids.

Leonard Kress

Leonard Kress has published poetry, translations, non-fiction, and fiction in Missouri Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. Among his collections are Craniotomy Sestinas (Kelsay Books, 2020), The Orpheus Complex (Main Street Rag, 2009), Walk Like Bo Diddley (Black Swamp Poetry Press, 2016), Living in the Candy Store and Other Poems (Encircle Publications, 2018), and his new verse translation of the Polish Romantic epic, Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz (HarrowGate Press, 1986). He has received multiple grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He currently teaches at Temple University.



Leonard Kress
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