a poem for march

This month’s poem comes to you from the Jewish American Literature class I took a couple of years ago. The class included a couple of poems and this one stuck with me. I found myself thinking about the imagery from time to time, and I still do. The carefully-worded and absolutely beautiful phrases never fail to work their magic on me, so I thought I’d share. Enjoy!

Snowflakes, my mother called them

Snowflakes, my mother called them.
My grandmother made papercuts
until she was too blind to see
the intricate birds, trees, Mogen
Davids, moons, flowers
that appeared like magic
when the folded paper
was opened.

My mother made simpler ones,
abstract. She never saved them.
Not hers, not mine.
It was a winter game.
Usually we had only newsprint
to play with. Sometimes
we used old wrapping paper,
white sheets from the bakery.

Often Grandma tacked hers
to the walls or on the window
that looked on the street,
the east window where the sun
rose hidden behind tenements
where she faced to pray.
I remember one with deer,
delicate hooves, fine antlers

for Pesach. Her animals were
always in pairs, the rabbits,
the cats, always cats in pairs,
little mice, but never horses,
for horses meant pogrom,
the twice widowed woman’s
sense of how things should be,
even trees by two for company.

I had forgotten. I had lost it all
until a woman sent me a papercut
to thank me for a poem, and then
in my hand I felt a piece of past
materialize, a snowflake long melted,
evaporated, cohering and once
again tower-necked fragile deer
stood, made of skill and absence.

– Marge Piercy
(from Jewish American Poetry: Poems, Commentary, and Reflections, edited by Barron and Selinger, 2000)

3 thoughts on “a poem for march

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