[Night after night, what she saw in her sleep]

Night after night, what she saw in her sleep:
an upside down Havdalah candle like the one she lit
to usher in a new week at the end of every Sabbath,

praying, “Blessed God, who separates light from dark…” 

The candle in her dreams, like her real candle,
had four wicks and four braided strands of wax,
but produced no flames, only entrails of light.

And she dreamt God unhinged the constellations
and whisked away the stars. Uncreating. Uncreating.
The pitch darkness: a grave she couldn’t find a way out of.

And she dreamt she was a stone a crow lifted
and tucked into the wind:
a girl born to memory that hushes the sun
and takes the place of trees’ shadows.

When she woke, the war still raged
and the sky hardened into rock.

She wondered: why is God doing this?
And the thunder thundered: why are people doing this?  

Despair swooping over her, her grief a kind of wingspan.

Delirious as the rain the river guzzled,
she became a stranger to herself,
circling her own shadow, searching for her beliefs,
her mind like shattered glass,

and the world stuck in her throat like a bone—

From Aunt Bird (Four Way Press, 2024) by Yerra Sugarman. Copyright © 2024 by Yerra Sugarman. Reprinted with the permission of the author.