Sunday, February 03, 2008


I.B. (Bunny) Iskov is the Founder of The Ontario Poetry Society. She is the author of 9 chapbooks (some a joint effort) and one full collection. Her work has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies, including Quills Canadian, Poetry Magazine, Ascent Aspirations Anthology One, and in several issues of Hammered Out. She listens to Hamilton's oldies radio station, A.M. 1150, every day.


I have made my hutch a haven
for abandoned years of sorrow.
I fill one crystal bowl with tears.

Sunlight falls on dusty shelves.
One silver plated koisa begs for a shine.

I open my cabinet doors,
Rearrange cluttered chachkas,
Wipe away stains of the past,
Hope for a clearer tomorrow.

I bake challah for Shabbat,
Candlesticks decorate my table like two sentries
guarding a precious paradigm.
I’m composed.


the bread flesh came away
body hairs gold as challah
ephemeral like a fling

impossible contradictions
paint my skin
between existence and enchantment

sweep the years
coagulate into colours

these colours change
I almost forget
they’re framed in stained glass

white only lives for the winter
among dead roses, scrawny trees
poems, too
shed their meanings like leaves
on sallow parchment

in the family of loud summer
red bursts into watery flames
stains the walls of the heart
turns grass to blood
turns sky to blood

as I grow old the
seasons elude
fog and fire co-mingle

every time I shed skin
I am caught off-guard
there are always shades
of indifference


Once, when the earth was young
and Eden just a garden,
the names of clouds
were only a sigh.

Once, when the smallest shiver
wafted through autumn,
a fashion statement resonated
in basic green.

Once, when no shame
and life were contained in a breath
each moment ignited in a glimpse
between mouths full of fruit.

Once, while everything still
fresh and naïve,
the twilight brimmed a rainbow
of benevolence and gold.

Once, when my man was just a boy
and terror a horror movie
each peace protest from a flower child
sang a new era.

Once, when buildings were giants among men
and the telephone a dynamic lifeline
gentle shadows hushed a tableaux of fury
between flightless flora and fauna.

Once, when beasts were confined to zoo cages
and communism the perfect enemy
rain-soaked and dramatic
iron fear curtained a new born question.

Once, when snakes could walk the earth
and apples promised wisdom in a bite
the air harnessed
a rhapsody of fire.


I am self-taught in the art
of memorized magic
ancient incantations
ignite in a moment
bloom at once
bright yellow flickering petals
spike halos
run off into the air

my grandmother would be proud
again and again
lighting her candle sticks
praying respectfully
with mellowed hands
weighted with worries
beneath salt water and scars

my Hebrew is a pretense
I have created myself
wrapped in a Canadian shawl
on a dead end street
moving lips in moral denial

a thick fabric of warmth
shades precious

Published in the Passover Literary Supplement,
The Canadian Jewish News, 2005


Blogger Rena Navon said...

You are performing Jewish customs within a contradiction of denial/tears of sorrow--a double bind that confines you to two conflicting commitments. Tradition credits inhibitions; your feelings are safeguarded in a hutch. Like so many Jewish women, you suffer and they understand the price of your composure.
One must admire the balance of your expression, your restraint and good taste. Outside the boundaries of Israel you are free to choose your own truth of truce.
Much remains between the lines, however. I will read more. Your struggle is not an easy one. And there are few answers.

8:50 AM  

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