This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from Open the Fist by Elya Braden, released by Finishing Line Press in 2020.
Electric Hanukkiah in the Window
content warning for incest
Mommy, I asked, why do we put it in the window?
To show our neighbors that we are not
drinking the blood of Christian children.
I remember her answering.
Dark bird, she swooped around the kitchen
in snug pedal-pushers,
her knuckled fingers busy—
sprinkling cinnamon over a kugel,
basting a pot roast,
only her bouffant hair shellacked into stillness.
But that can’t be right.
I’ve twisted this recollection somehow.
It’s Passover that recalls the blood,
not of Christian children, but of lambs.
I remember those eight days of gifts,
an annual competition
with our Christian friends to see who got
more loot at the end of the season.
But even daily gifts couldn’t staunch my hunger
for evergreen, incense, an angel.
Day one: a little Kiddle doll.
Day two: another.
Day eight: the big reveal—
a Kiddle doll game board.
A joint present for me and my little sister.
With only 11 months between our births,
it could only end in tears.
Who knows where it is now?
On the trash heap of time,
along with the electric Hanukkiah,
our tired dreidels,
and the Alice in Wonderland sheets
stained in my memory
with midnight and father and blood.
Or maybe, I’ve twisted that, too.
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