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The Braille of Evening
by Judy Kronenfeld

The last coins of sunlight flash while I read…half-read…
And I’m still inside, waiting—

preparing for something that takes infinite preparation,
yet may reveal itself at any moment…if I am waiting.

An impish prof once ambled towards me—surrounded by books and ash at a dank desk—
and said “It’s the cocktail hour! What are you waiting for?”

My ancestors in their black coats and fur hats
were lost in thickets of holy letters, waiting

for Moshiach. Their pages crumbled, their skin
yellowed to parchment while they were waiting.

The quickly-brushed luster of the day is drying,
going flat, but I am still waiting.

I imagine leaf-shadow lacework on the grass,
the dog dozing in the sun—no longer waiting

for me—and seeing these so clearly, lift my head,
but cannot read the darkness-gathering trees.

Originally published in Soundings Review, Fall/Winter, 2013. Reprinted in Judy Kronenfeld, Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle Press, 2017).

PAINTING: Sunset by Felix Vallotton (1900).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I had been glancing at some ghazals, and the use of a repeated word or phrase in the second-line of each two-line stanza definitely crept over into this poem, even if it doesn’t qualify as a ghazal (no rhyme, and the stanzas don’t stand alone, as if they were complete poems). The repetition seemed to encourage and capture a paradoxical feeling of stasis and expectation—and loss.The title pleased me—one of those leaps into the dark. “Moshiach” is Hebrew for the Messiah.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judy Kronenfeld has published two chapbooks and four full-length collections of poetry, including  Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2017), Shimmer (WordTech, 2012), and Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, (2nd ed. Antrim House, 2012), winner of the Litchfield Review poetry book prize for 2007. Groaning and Singing, her fifth collection, will be published by FutureCycle in early 2022. Her poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, Connotation Press, Ghost Town, New Ohio Review, One (Jacar Press), Rattle, Slant, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verdad and other journals, and in over two dozen  anthologies. She has published stories in The Madison Review, The North American Review, Literary Mama, and other magazines, and creative nonfiction in Under the Sun, Hippocampus, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, and elsewhere.  She is Lecturer Emerita, Department of Creative Writing, UC Riverside, and an Associate Editor of Poemeleon. Visit her at judykronenfeld.com.