Map of the borough of Brooklyn, City of New York, 1912. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.


This matzah ball soup
Reminds me of my grandmother
I’m so close to her here in Brooklyn city of her birth

Darling as she called everyone
Let’s be sentimentalists together
And forget about her personality disorder

Forget her in the attic on St Marks Avenue
Thinking her baby was a bouquet of flowers
Instead regard the mama bird

Feeding her openmouthed chicks
Who is the worm I am the worm
Who is the mother I am the mother

Juggling too many lifetimes to count
So I let them drop like planets
Marbles falling on the carpet of ocean

If I were a nightingale
I’d always say the right thing
Instead I am hedgehog sweetgum ball prickly pear

And I stick my edges into the bullshit
Politeness of the West Coast
When I lived in New York I kept my exterior polished

I thought the pigeons were nightingales
Reflection friend past self in the subway glass
O the mornings I wasted

Reading about how to give birth

Alicia Jo Rabins is a writer, musician, and Torah teacher based in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of Divinity School (winner of the 2015 APR/Honickman First Book Prize) and Fruit Geode, forthcoming from Brooklyn Arts Press in fall 2018.