December 07

Three Poems by Alicia Ostriker

Alicia Ostriker

The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip and the Dog

To be blessed
said the old woman
is to have so many
love just
washes through you
like milk through a cow

to be blessed
said the dark red tulip
is to knock their eyes out
with the slug of lust
implied by
your up-ended

to be blessed
said the dog
is to have a pinch
of God
inside you
and all the other dogs
can smell it

Dear God

It used to be
I would fall to the floor and press my forehead to it
in moments of despair

I would say help me
help me

but listen
I am ok
but I just now found myself pressing my forehead
to the carpet of my stairs

about the waters in the flooded cities
poisoned by oilspill, chemicals, the dead
about the survivors forever traumatized
dear god
I am alive I am alive
help them

The Drone

Get a move on
it says
every year,

day, hour, minute
keep going, keeping
up the good work, go on with

your task, it
never stops reminding me
how badly I am doing it


I have to straighten out
my love life first
get that on an even keel

I say, but it says
don’t fool yourself
love lives never get straightened out

they are by nature crooked
get back to work
you don’t have forever

Live to you now from the hypothalamus
here it comes again
the drone

at the base of my skull
or the voice of joy singing
duets with her partner death

same old task
gather grief like straw
spin it into praise



Alicia Ostriker is a prize-winning poet, critic and midrashist, whose work appears in many Jewish anthologies and journals. Her writing on the Bible includes Feminist Revision and the Bible (1992), The Nakedness of the Fathers: Biblical Visions and Revisions (1994), and the preface to an edition of The Five Scrolls (2000). Her forthcoming work, For the Love of God: the Bible as an Open Book, is due in fall 2007. Ostriker is Professor Emerita of Rutgers University and leads midrash writing workshops in the USA and abroad.