Two Poems by Elana Wolff


Hubble ESA, An explosive galaxy via Creative Commons





Think of all the times you haven’t been thwarted
by your teeth and tongue,

your clavicle and ulnas, femurs and gut.
Body says, This one’s on me.

Brain says, What’s remembered lives;
It’s alright not to get over loss. 

Light left Vega when you were born,
it’s taken this long to arrive;

a run begun in a great bright kite
the ancients called a lyre.

You are always the centre of the poem,
even when you’re not.

Just before imploding, a giant
star releases a tone, we’re told,

that’s close to middle C ~
Do stars relinquish sound?

If they do, can we hear it?
Beyond the poem are sirens, fire,

sea careening the pier. Beyond the poem,
a brother burned.

It’s his exigency pushing the poem—
through to the flume

below. A hawk-and-swallow chorus rises—
higher than a hope. A truck

down-gears, a horn lets go. Sounds
that keep us piqued; you loathe the racket.

The whole wide world’s a narrow bridge, a
concertina wire. The key is not to fear,

to make it across—

Forty Years

          have passed; we’ve left the desert.
Fire-pillar guides by night, cover

of cloud—those nebulous shepherds, by day.
Food and drink provided

despite our waywardness, especially mine.
I begged to linger; loved the camel-

coloured sand, the arid air.
Forty—that pivotal biblical sum;

we had to finish the course, I guess,
then leave.

          Frigid winds are wringing here
I’m quavering in my coat—the slider on the zipper

stuck in the stop. You in your thermal socks
and flannels can’t get warmth enough.

My laptop keeps demanding my location.
I must be a person

of deep belief. Every morning I wake
with the clock, to disembodied radio voices,

you beside me energizing. Sun
still pallid as ash.

I’m certain it will quicken to its task.
What need have we of fear—

of slipping
on our winter chinks of light.

Elana Wolff’s collection, Swoon (Guernica Editions), received the 2020 Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry. Her collection, Shape Taking, is newly released with Ekstasis Editions. To follow Elana’s work, please visit her author’s page with Guernica.