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Fischer, Joan (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 51, Number 3 (Summer 2005)

Poetry,   pp. 22-28

Page 27

Yom Kippur 
Fast in Taos 
Perhaps, says the rabbi after Kol Nidre, 
we fast to be more like angels. Perhaps, 
I think just past noon the next day. Do angels 
get headaches because they don't eat? 
Do they shiver at their computers, chilled 
near to death by two missed meals, 
a weekend of clouds, the thinly veiled threat 
of snow? Do visiting angels in foreign lands 
shun Yom Kippur Torah service, not wanting 
to davven familiar prayers set to peculiar tunes? 
I punch up the thermostat; still I can't 
get warm. I dress for a walk outside. 
No diaphanous gown; no wings. I pull on 
woolen gloves, a sweatshirt over a turtleneck, 
a lined nylon windbreaker jacket. In a few blocks, 
blood starts to flow. The headache begins to diffuse. 
A breeze herds clouds like sheep; they flock 
against Taos Mountain. The sun breaks through. 
I shed jacket and gloves. When angels take walks 
it's like this: small birds sing from the power lines, 
the orchards are gifted with apples, the spice of 
a rain-soaked meadow sharpens the wood-smoke air. 
Gold blessings drift from the cottonwoods. 
Plastic flamingos strut in a cactus garden. 
Patches of blue sky promise: tomorrow 
the mountaintop will be revealed. 
by Judith Strasser 
Judith Strasser's memoir, Black Eye: Escaping a Marriage, 
Writing a Life, was published last year by University of 
Wisconsin Press. She's also the author of a Parallel Press chap- 
book, Sand Island Succession: Poems of the Apostles. Her 
poems and essays have appeared in many literary magazines 
and anthologies, including Poetry, The Kenyon Review, 
Witness, Prairie Schooner, and Nimrod. Her video poem, 
"Searching for Pine Hollow," was broadcast on Wisconsin 
Public Television as part of National Poetry Month. 
Naming Things 
I guess this is how things happen- 
you get your heart broken in Boston, 
pack a small suitcase and move 
to Wisconsin because you heard 
the Midwest is real. There are tiny 
apricots that grow around the bay 
outside your window. You get a job 
as a cocktail waitress at Nadia's 
and sleep around. Each morning, 
you become more certain there is 
something here that you can love. 
In the evenings, you watch the news 
reports of the forest fires blazing 
through the West. Your cousin Gwen 
calls to say she dropped out of pilot 
school to fight the fires. There are more 
important things than flying, she says. 
The live footage is beautiful and sudden, 
the flames rush across the land like 
nothing will ever be enough, like there 
is no other way for this to happen. 
You miss the pigeons in Cambridge 
and your old piano. By the time 
August comes, it has been raining 
for days. The orange and pink 
apricot flesh has become flabby 
and careless, unable to survive 
in so much wetness. You walk along 
the drenched shore, naming things, 
slipping on the rocks that mark the way. 
by Jennifer Garfield 
Jennifer Garfield is a fresh graduate from the University 
of Wisconsin-Madison, where she majored in creative 
writing and environmental studies. She has two poems 
forthcoming in Karama literary magazine. 
UM M ER  2 0 05  27 

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