Poem by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub (USA)
Published in The Ofi Press issue 38.
Clarissa’s Convocation of Muses
There is no particular time of day.
She cannot depend on the signs of visitors approaching: the crunch of
wagon wheels on gravel, the rustle of muslin at May dusk. Even as she
scours floors and makes beds as instructed by her grandmother—
sides out, pillows above quilt, top of quilt folded under pillows—
even as she stocks the larder with goods from the general store
and frets over her ballooning debt there,
Clarissa knows she cannot will their arrival.
There are no particular tools.
She cannot shuffle, fan, or read cards with any dexterity. The Ouija board
has only ever remained still in her presence, despite candles flickering and
faces expectant all around. A crystal ball gathers dust in the parlor,
occasionally remarked upon by visiting spiritualists of various sorts.
Once she hung beaded curtains in doorways;
once she had a penchant for ornately flowered shawls. Once.
As fond as Clarissa is of these instruments, they ignore her beckoning.
There is no question of instruction.
Clarissa has no inclination to circles, where words artfully arranged are
dissected. Even if time could be found, even if she could sneak away
from meals and cleaning and duty, she would chafe under the
suggestions, however discreet. Nor do opportunities arise for grander
venues. For all their genteel revolutionary fervor, the salons, with their
damask sofas and tinkling laughter, remain closed to her.
She is neither unaware of their charms nor surprised at her lack of access.
For Clarissa hears voices. Rather, voices find Clarissa.
Perhaps the baby Tobias has quieted; perhaps he is in mid-wail. Perhaps
Maude has just arrived with the latest gossip. No matter. Clarissa finds
a path into quiet. She stares at the blues of the worn carpet gifted by
Gran. She hears the rustling of apple trees, transfixed by the path of
blossoms drifting onto a naked bisque doll abandoned in mud. Clarissa
feels herself opening as word music drifts from her fingertips onto paper.
Maude shakes her head in disapproval; Tobias gurgles in wonder.
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is the author of four books of poetry, Prayers of a Heretic/Tfiles fun an apikoyres (2013), Uncle Feygele (2011), What Stillness Illuminated/Vos shtilkayt hot baloykhtn (2008), and The Insatiable Psalm (2005). A number of his Yiddish poems were recently set to music by Michał Górczyński and performed at various venues in Warsaw, Poland. Taub was honored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage as one of New York’s best emerging Jewish artists and has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for a Best of the Net award. Please visit his web site at www.yataub.net.
Image: "Shoe Blue" by Mike Schmid.