Two Poems by Jacqueline Osherow

Published May 19, 2010, issue of May 28, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Love Song to That Performance Poet, My Mother

Mom! Guess what? I didn’t inherit nothing —

Okay, so maybe I didn’t get your face,

your generosity, your perfect kindness.

That was you in my kitchen this very morning

when Magda refused breakfast (a tad rudely)

and I offered her a nice glass of grapefruit juice

and — it won’t surprise you — she said yes!

Oh lure of the specific! Living poetry!


How you, after dinner, every single night

would offer me a nice piece of fruit

and I would every single night decline.

But you persisted: How about a nectarine?


An apple? A bunch of grapes? A pear? A plum?

And damned if I didn’t take one every time.

—Jacqueline Osherow


Villanelle on the Oldest Known Piece of Writing

There’s a real chance I have it wrong,

the oldest known language written down:

All the songs have already been sung

It sounds apocryphal, but so enticing:

Akkadian? Sumerian? On stone.

There’s a real chance I have it wrong.

Still, it would absolve my noiseless tongue

or at least offer some commiseration

if all the songs have already been sung.

Perhaps it’s why so many bells are rung:

every hour on the hour, a carillon

(I suppose there’s a chance I have it wrong)

helps the air articulate its longing

(The air is longing? I’m not alone? )

for all its songs, already sung.

But why, if I’ve known this all along,

do I keep waiting here, my heart wide open?

There’s a real chance I have it wrong.

All the songs have already been sung.

—Jacqueline Osherow


Jacqueline Osherow’s sixth collection of poems, “Whitethorn,” is forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press in 2011.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.