two poems

by Rachel Heimowitz

Someone Else’s Livid Day
from The Guardian, August 21, 2015

The newspaper doesn’t mention epigenetics, but
startles with words like trauma
and holocaust, and a bright picture

of DNA Chagalled in space, curlicued
in dots of protein leaning
like the math of music held on a stave,

or like the barbs of an electrified fence,
the fence behind which
the children stand,

each tied in a dirty rag
that covers their ears against
the freezing, Polish wind. You can see them,

striped clothes sized for someone else,
bellies distended, even the tendril
of a girl, who sways near the others,

eyes demanding to be held,
arm open to the number tattooed
there, and on her son, years later,

whose vicious fists will writhe
against ‘yid’ and ‘sheeny’
or later, her grandson,

against ‘jew-bag’ and ‘zog’—
each printed in rope-bridge code
deep within the children

of those lucky enough
to survive their own ravenous
seasons, displayed in crisp reality

as each DNA is unrolled like a Torah scroll,
read out loud each shabbat, memories
that drag a language into the marrow,

into the bones, into the savage
hand of someone else’s livid day,
spread generation to generation.

Look deeply
into the DNA of my own children.
There you will find me, a little girl, dark

hair too long and torn underpants, unconscious
on a tiled floor because I couldn’t
remember my times tables.


Just in time for reality
and rain, in time
to lasso the whisper that courses
through this body—

switch on the lamp, dear, —the gloam
gathers here
on my chest like a pet, unwanted
and smelling of age.

How easy
to dial you,
how hard to part
my hands, purse my mouth,

drive the whole head of white seed
out into the night,

as one riffles back, sticks
to my lips, and hands

that loop the rope
over my head,
round and round—

—arms so tired. Tonight

a room smolders in lamplight and no one
now to notice the stars
or dust or loneliness, just

another night when every molecule inside me
begs the taste of you.

Rachel Heimowitz is the author of the chapbook, What the Light Reveals (Tebot Bach Press, 2014.) Her work has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Spillway, Prairie Schooner and Georgia Review. She was recently a finalist for the COR Richard Peterson Prize, winner of the Passenger Prize and she has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Rachel received her MFA Pacific University in Spring 2015 and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California.
Artwork by: Vladimir Lyovin
Vladimir Lyovin is a Russian photographer who specializes in fine art photography. Vladimir was born in 1984 in Omsk. In his home town he received the qualification as a fine art photographer. Since 2011 he lives and works in Saint-Petersburg. Vladimir is working and developing as an independent visual artist. In his art Vladimir explores digital photography, thus, creating digital paintings.
Instagram: @lyovinvladimir