Saturday, July 09, 2005

Jay Ladin, "Family Tree"

Most of the poems in Jay Ladin's Alternatives to History are too long to type up here, but here's a short and particularly haunting one--not entirely representative (it's much bleaker, more mordant, than most of the book), but haunting.
Family Tree

In the black heart
Of a black year
The food runs out
And the family stranded
On the small stone shelf

Begins to eat itself

The youngest flesh
Is tastiest
Then the family turns
To shrunken uncles
And dessicated aunts

The ledge is strewn
With bones and scraps
No one will clean
And no one will confess
To eating grandma's eyes

Just in time
Ancestors arrive
Gnawing its roots
The family survives
What exactly this is a parable of, I'm not sure-- But parable it surely is, and scarily so. Hmmm... Maybe next time I have to participate in a panel discussion on Jewish Continuity, I'll read it, just to see what happens.

Brrrr... Such a sweet, sweet man, Jay Ladin (I met him, once). I'll post more on the rest of this book, including about its suite of poems on "The Situation," written during his stay in Israel some years ago, soon.

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