Poetry: Unfinished Poem by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

The past can be a plague, an ever-present intrusion of darkness—Shapiro walks us into the shadow sweetly here, carefully with image and enjambment and long, rolling sentences. A family wakes together on a weekday: the father, the mother and daughters, the gentle dawn light caressing them all. But yet, in the corner, that looming maw of the missing and the unfinished.


Unfinished Poem

Light could not seep through the drawn corduroy drape
in the bedroom where my mother woke to the shock
of my father still asleep, past dawn, on a weekday.
The buttery light I, his third daughter, saw
when I was called to that room must have risen
from my father’s freckled back, his flattened shoulder blades,
his outstretched arms, the back of his head, the light
that never came to him through the smeary window
of his grocery store, the flamelet that guttered
when he looked at us—his wife, three daughters,
and his longed-for son, the darkness when he hid
in an unlit oven during the pogrom
that murdered his five brothers.



Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

Rochelle Jewel Shapiro’s novel, Miriam The Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004), was nominated for the Harold U. Ribelow Award. The sequel, Kaylee's Ghost (2012) was an Indie finalist. She’s published essays in NYT (Lives) and Newsweek, and in many anthologies. Her short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary magazines such as The Alembic, Amoskeag, California Quarterly (CQ), The Cape Rock, The Coe Review, Compass Rose, Controlled Burn, Front Range Review, The Griffin, Harpur Palate, Inkwell Magazine, The Iowa Review, Los Angeles Review, The MacGuffin, Memoir Journal, Moment, Negative Capability, Pearl, Pembroke, Pennsylvania English, Peregrine, Ragged Sky Press, Rio Grande Review, RiverSedge, Schuylkill Valley Journal Of the Arts, The South Carolina Review, Stand, Studio One, and Thema. Her essay, Eulogy for My Mother won the Branden Memorial Literary Award from Negative Capability. She teaches writing at UCLA Extension. https://rochellejshapiro.com @rjshapiro

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