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Creative

Last Passover In Montreal

  • Rachel Rose

Corps de l’article

I

He wakes from his nap chortling to suck, dark

hair tendriled with dream sweat, and you thirst

the thirst of a lactating woman in April,

you are parched with fear of death, his, that last

small parceled-out breath, the moment you

reach him, that ache in the soles of your feet rising

to envelop you. And so you sleep

with him wedged between you and the wall in the now-

sterile marital bed, damp with a fine mist of milk,

sweet pampers, chapped skin. You sleep on edge,

on the edges of your small, gassy creation,

your milk marking a trail of drops

from the kitchen to the bedroom: Gretel’s crumbs,

the salt that follows you home

after a sea voyage,

leading back to his raven chuffs,

his peacock screams. You offer yourself,

blue milk, gold cream,

you feed him, and your breasts,

dark apples, gleam.

II

Now that you are leaving, you allow yourself

some tenderness for Montreal, now that you know

you will never spend another winter snowbound

with a colicky infant, resigned

to speaking French like the immigrant

you are. Now you walk the city gently,

he hangs from your shoulders, a bag of heat

a lead apron, and his feet beat time

against your thighs. Lambs, hooked

in the windows of the Portuguese groceries,

pock newspapers with their blood,

Hassidic girls flit past you

in their flowered petticoats, bright butterflies

on trottinettes, swerving between the black-

clad Greek women with thick ankles

who block your path, brush off the dappled laugh

of the bare-chested, sweet-

nippled pur laine boys on rollerblades

who no longer bother trying to run you down

to make you look at them.

III

At first your nipples sprayed blood, it foamed

out the sides of his mouth as you cracked the joints

of your feet in pain, drowning alone

on your side of the bed. He swallowed you wholly,

mouth wide as a trout, sharp bone definitive

under his gums, one leg flung over your shoulder,

casual as a tail. Slowly your anemic body

restitches its new shift. Every hour

you make your uncomprehending pilgrimage:

thirty steps from bed to crib to fridge.

What you need, you believe,

is a new city.

IV

It’s the stink of Avenue du Parc you’ll miss,

stands of Caribbean mangoes, Latin avocados,

bagels sweating in brick ovens. Clean sheets

jig on the fire escapes, Hassid

schoolboys chant their lessons

through the open windows. But you are not

kosher, you are blood and milk

transfused into the one who should

outlive you. His bones knit into place,

teeth jell to opaque permanence.

You have joined the middle generation.

Your sympathies have shifted with your blood

offerings, imagining deeply for the first time

your parents as they became parents

in a city you’ve never visited,

your parents before the exile,

a coarse salt tossed over the shoulder.

It’s hot twilight

and the baby’s sleeping,

the cup of wine is far too sweet

and evening brings its own

transformations:

entitlement to gratitude,

anger to startled prayer.

Parties annexes