January 21, 2019

Shabbat prayer, on the occasion of war

beginning with a line from Siegfried Sassoon

A flare went up; the shining whiteness spread,
as though it were a match bright enough
to light the room, but not so bright it snuffed
the residue of darkness overhead.
There once was darkness signifying calm —
our candles glowed
beside the window, the nights did not explode,
or bullets ricochet, or firebombs
turn streets to ash. We drank a glass of wine.
The night served as the complement to day,
like salt on something sweet. And, in this way,
we tasted syrup mixed with brine.
And, in this way, we learned a prayer
that joined the shadow with the shining flare.

“Shabbat Prayer, on the Occasion of War” appeared in “Stateside” (Northwestern University Press, 2010). Jehanne Dubrow is the author of  the poetry collections “The Arranged Marriage” (University of New Mexico Press,  2015) and “Red Army Red” (Northwestern University Press, 2012). Her sixth book of poems, “Dots & Dashes,” won the Crab Orchard Review Open Competition and will be published by Southern Illinois University Press this year. She is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of North Texas.