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Articles by Jill Bergkamp
Rachel to her midwife
May 05, 2009
On the barren road you speak my name,
offer me a drink. That morning
at the well Jacob rolled the stone away as
if it were straw. What a man
would do for me then. He told me
“I saw God face to face, yet my life
was spared.” And now you say
“Your son comes,” but your hands
struggle inside me as the owl cries,
and I know this earth will take everything
from me, even the name I give him. Sister,
there is not enough salt in the Dead
Sea for all out tears. Our bodies, destroyed
temples. We are exiles, all of us. I give you
my name for your daughters and their girls
to come, but remember this: a man’s favor
is a heavy offering, it crafts one day into
seven, then multiplies the years. Slams a veil
between sisters. In the end, when you hear
your name called, all you long for is home.
Dec 26, 2006
So she took a look back,
what did it matter?
Her city ablaze,
righteous anger engulfing it.
Would you look if you knew
the Holy Just One
chose your city to demolish—
you children, your friends,
even people you hated?
Wouldn’t their voices cry out
to haunt if you didn’t?
But this is not a story
no gopher wood ark, no rainbow.
This is a story of flood
without water, of ruin,
This wife turned her head
to look back and became
the very thing
tears are made of;
Dec 28, 2004
At night your children ask
in cries for you to come to them
In the space between sleep and light
you pull on a baby sling, tuck in small fingers
soothing who you can. Not at all times mindful
what treasure you hold.
In the morning things align themselves
like dishes in a row
work to do, and people
who have need of you, always
The space will not always be there,
you meet your children in.
Someday not so long from now, no one
will wake you from your sleep and dreams.
Pictures will move behind your eyes
again, noise given only to floor boards,
traffic, a rotating fan.
But what is more grounded
than the pavement you tread at 3 a.m.?
weighty jewel against your chest.