Carol V. Davis is the author of Because I Cannot Leave This Body (2017) and Between Storms (2012)). She won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg. Twice a Fulbright scholar in Russia, her work has been read on NPR and at the Library of Congress. She received a 2015 Barbara Deming grant and is poetry editor of the Los Angeles newspaper, The Jewish Journal. She teaches at Santa Monica College and Antioch Univ. Los Angeles and in winter 2015 she taught in Ulan-Ude, Siberia.
Because The Porch Light Flickered
Because the porch light flickered
the moths circled first one way, then the other,
thrown off their habitual trance.
We watched the clouds
dependent on them for predictions:
Would the storm hit or bypass us altogether?
What passes for seasons here:
the towering Australian oak exploding in full leaf
when the other trees are shedding.
Searing heat on Rosh Hashanah.
We secretly plead with Abraham not to strike Isaac,
for God to give a last minute reprieve or failing that,
to suspend Abraham’s arm midair. One slip
of our attention and the story could rewrite itself
in a bloodbath, certainty lost before another sundown.
Faith and doubt jockey for position, the way
a marathoner sizes up the competition before
planting her feet in the front line.
Will her finishing time be dependent
on always wearing the same red shorts?
Or closing her eyes before the starting gun goes off?
Everyone throws salt over the left shoulder,
but how many of us blind the devil
so he can’t witness our misdeeds?
In the Middle Ages left-handed people
were burned at the stake.
I’m Jewish, so doubly cursed.
Starting on a journey with your right foot
is good luck, while if your left foot itches,
your travels will end in sorrow.