Will Well‘s most recent book of poetry, Unsettled Accounts won the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and was published by Ohio University/Swallow Press in 2010. He continues to publish widely, often on Jewish themes and was pleased to discover Blue Lyra Review at session of AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs). He recently has been a Fellow at Sewanee Writers’ Conference and West Chester Poetry Conference and won a 2016 Individual Artist Excellence award in poetry from the Ohio Arts Council.
Beneath the Seal, Ferrara
Plaster tablets in Ferrara’s Jewish
Archive once served as seals for Jewish tombs.
If medical students scavenged for fresh
corpses to dissect, families would assume
no remedy from the Catholic courts,
but could haggle with doctors for the scraps.
A broken seal meant go, collect the parts.
For any absent bits, God must mend the lapse
at the end of days, or so the second seal
implores. Still missing, unabated grief,
suspended by the haste to strike a deal.
These exchanges compounded as beliefs –
to spurn the lesser offer; to hold fast
to whatever they could; to make things last.
Under an Amulet, Venice Ghetto
for Dr. Leonard Rothman
The midwife’s assistant stood across the room
and raised a Torah scroll. It gave devout
focus through labor, a hedge against doom.
The air was suffused with scents of stewed fruit
from the pan beneath the bed, bait set to
distract demon Lilith from causing harm.
Adam’s first wife, she haunted the Ghetto,
seeking vengeance, though subject to the charm,
like her sister, Eve, of forbidden fruit.
On the mounded belly, the midwife placed
a scrap from a worn-out scroll, believing it
would leach good luck into the womb. She faced
the wall for modesty, but used frank hands
to part the waters to a promised land.