A Literary Magazine in Support of the Jewish Community

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On Reading That According to the Jewish Calendar, Days Begin with Night by Susan Aizenberg

On Reading That According to the Jewish Calendar, Days Begin with Night

I think of my mother’s Coconut Creek buddies,

all in their late eighties, clustered


around the condo pool in their floppy hats

and flowery one-piece suits


like so many withered blossoms. Getting old ain’t for sissies,

they liked to warn. Meaning the obituaries


they scanned each morning on their sun-wrecked

lanais over bagels and decaf—Who do we know?


Who’s younger? Older? Meaning the blue and white

ambulances, ubiquitous as the surrey-fringed


golf carts prowling their Planned Community,

screaming harbingers among the rapacious


tropical blooms and subdued fake lawns. Meaning

walkers, nurses, and companions from the islands.


Meaning hip fractures, glaucoma. Tumors. Each new

day not a beginning, but one day less. At sixty-nine,


you and I are babies, they scoff, but hasn’t it begun?

This one surprises his wife with new hearing aids


in lieu of birthday roses. That one’s darling needs

new medications for his fragile heart. Gray hair,


less hair, lost reading glasses. Vanity’s the least of it.

Making love’s acrobatic, but not in some up-


against-the-elevator-wall Cinemax way. And of course,

it’s an illusion, and no work for the sun, what we call


its rising and setting, as we turn and turn, passing

in and out of its light. Night doesn’t fall,


day does not break. It’s this fragile earth, endlessly

circling and spinning, that we should pity.

Susan Aizenberg

Susan Aizenberg’s newest collection, A Walk with Frank O’Hara and Other Poems, is forthcoming in 2024 in the University of New Mexico Press’s Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series. She is the author as well of two earlier full-length collections, Quiet City (BkMk 2015) and Muse (Crab Orchard 2002) and of a limited-edition letterpress chapbook, First Light (Gibraltar 2020). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Plume, On the Seawall, North American Review, American Journal of Poetry, Blackbird, The Night Heron Barks, I70, and elsewhere. Her awards include the VCU Levis Prize and the Nebraska Book Award for Poetry. Aizenberg lives and writes in Iowa City. Her website is https://susanaizenberg.wordpress.com.


Susan Aizenberg