The country between us
has no borders.
The barbed wire has been cut.
The walls decimated.
The moat drained beneath the bridge.
I cross over to you carrying a metal lunch pail
filled with bologna sandwiches, mayonnaise
spread from crust to crust. We sit
in the grass, our skirts spread over pale legs.
Some days I wear jeans, a blouse with open collar.
I look into your face as into a mirror. Some days we speak.
Other times we remain silent. As if we could hear
music inside the words.
It’s Always Something
Norma the beautician has a blood clot in her leg & has to wear a special
We did a big shop and the girl carried the heavy things — Coca Cola,
Hansen’s into the house.
I left the key in the house and was locked out so I took a taxi to Sonia’s
house but she wasn’t home so I called and came home later than before.
A man found a letter addressed to me on the sidewalk.
The mailman changes from one time to the next.
I got a letter from a bank, I should sign that I’m still alive.
When a scar grows together after a surgery the skin comes back thicker.
The girl comes on Friday so I have to buy the yogurt she likes and tuna
I am tired and my leg hurts.
I am lonely and my heart hurts.
When are you coming home?
How to Remember
Sorrow for sorrow,
I give you mine, you give me yours,
an even exchange.
Except that if we were to weigh
in on the scale of years,
whose would be heavier, one war
scaled against another, evictions, massacres,
one death against another,
any death too heavy to carry alone.
You enter your house
and close the bullet-riddled door.
I enter mine riddled with fear.
How does one injustice balance another?
I would take you on my back
if you were too weary to walk, too wounded,
and travel with you to our holy homes
where we once lived companionably
beside olive trees and mineral seas
that kept us afloat, even those of us
who could not swim.
Without headstone, who will remember
the dead? Who will tend the graves?
What flower will grow,
what grass? What beetle burrow
under bruised leaf? What bee browse?
What bird bustle with song?
Who is the trustee of the dead?
Headstones fallen over, cracked,
covered in lichen, moss and neglect.
No stones or bouquets left in remembrance.
No mourners or words of comfort.
Only the shipwrecked listen,
only the forgotten remember.
Gail Newman, born in Germany and raised in Los Angles, lives in San Francisco with her husband. Gail has worked for many years as a poet-teacher with California Poets in the Schools and is a Museum Educator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. She has published two books of poems by children, Dear Earth and C is For California, and Inside Out, a book of lessons for high school teachers. She was the co-founder and editor of Room, A Women’s Literary Journal. Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies including: Ghosts of the Holocaust, California Women Poets, Dear Gentlepersons, and The Other Side of the Postcard. A collection of poetry, One Worldwas published in 2011 by Moontide Press.