Playing Eve
Three poems by Hila Ratzabi

Genesis I

The Platonic Male Form floated in an aura
around my fourth-grade mind for about three seconds, until
it descended into dark wisps of brown hair
straight broom-bottom sweep underlining forehead
crowning two eyes: brown brown
and plaid shirt tucked in
thick khaki pants vertical seam covering
what must be a penis, I stared
and then down:
brown boots cowboy rusty
dusted seemed to be saying:
we've walked
far on these hard feet; tread much dirt
(such a dirty flirt), ha, how we've lived to tell
oh the prowess of this man, this
Man, how I thought:
teach me what you are
(eyes all-knowing, never-telling)
his shirt whispering: soft
neck questioning my tongue
and his belt, sturdy leather recalled
how this morning it slid across his waist
how later tonight with one squeaky pull it would
loosen its embrace and fall content, yet weary, to the floor.

Gods in windows

Thou shalt not make for thyself any carved idol.

I watched you sleeping there on the gray subway seat,
your head lying back,
left arm resting on the shiny silver bar,
blanketed in an oversized black winter coat.
Your eyes did not open from behind your glasses;
you did not flinch.
Your legs were outstretched in khakis and red boots.
I watched your closed lips, your beard growing.

I looked for my own reflection ahead
but my face was blocked by the space
where the two window frames touched.
I could see my hair falling on both sides like your legs
chiseled unconscious.

Behold I set before you this day a blessing and a curse . . .

The squares of the floor were asking questions
of what I knew of you, what was real and what
I had formed, and the comfort
of fourteen or thirteen and a half months,
and what will become of this space between us,
this two and a half, or so, feet of separation.
(how many squares exactly?)

A curse: if you go after other gods, which you have not known.

(But I did know him.
Like the old woman in the park
knows her pigeons
to the extent to which she can imagine they are real people.)

We get home to your bed and try to talk,
but I, silent, speak to God instead asking
"From where will my help come?"
(How King David looked towards the mountains)
I look out the window to the airshaft:
Only buildings.

Playing Eve

In second grade we made a play about the creation of the universe.

The fat girl with the hula-hoop plays the moon; the small quick girl with bushy bouncing hair traipses about the stage draped in yellow as the sun; the class bully mopes plump and embarrassed in his pink and white bunny costume. I raise and lower a purple baton, up and down, my navy sky-cape fastened round my neck in a row of God's stars.

Adam and Eve wear white leotards and tights, green wreaths in their hair, large leaf covering Adam's shame. They dance together while we sing: "It is not good for a man to be alone." Their cream-white angel bodies spin round and round.

He bows and bends down on one knee as she takes his hand and circles him, and then they switch, he circling her quiet grace. His short black hair wraps his pale head like a raven sleeping in snow. Her bangs are gold and smooth; she never says a word.

The silver stars on my cape peel at the edges, shining under my arms' metallic movements, up and down, up and down, I am a star, I am a star, I tell myself, and I wouldn't have wanted to play Eve anyway, I tell myself.

Image: Bara Sapir, Hannah/Tiferet

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From previous issues:

Eliezer Sobel

Deep, Jewish Pain
Andrea Liu