A comfortable radical, an academic writing careful verse
in a warm office, what would I do
if fascists rose again, slaughterers with perfect death machines?
I cannot say.
There is no answering that day
until it comes, nor knowing what bells one will strike in warning,
what knotted words of compliance
slip too easily from the tongue.
I have no faith in my bravery, less than in the god revealed
only in silence. Oh, One Who Moves Behind the Facade,
the doors gaping to three-walled houses,
let the illusion-breakers not come for me.
But if they must, grant that I remember Garcia Lorca:
These fields will be strewn with bodies.
I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to Granada.
Show an affirming flame:
called back, called back,
as though they had not
echoed through the canyons
before they returned.
And if my words
become ugly, if I recant
every last kind thought,
if the lines of my face
twist in cruelty,
may these soundings
~ Izzy Wasserstein
Izzy Wasserstein is the author of This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, a 2013 Kansas Notable Book. Izzy teaches at Washburn University, runs long distances slowly, and shares a home with a cat and three dogs.
Guest Editor Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the author or editor of two dozen books, including the recent poetry collection Following the Curve, and collection of prose Everyday Magic: Fieldnotes on the Mundane and Miraculous. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches, she leads writing workshops widely, and loves watching the poetry of others rise and glow.
2 thoughts on “Prayer — By Izzy Wasserstein”
Izzy, I especially liked your second stanza. It could be its own poem and I loved imagining you up against the landscape of Nature in this way. Nice work.
I read in your bio that you “run long and slowly” so I wanted to share that my daughter is participating in the 7x7x7 (much to my dismay– but it will certainly be long.) Blessings, Annie
Izzy–Powerful. You’ve raised questions many of us must answer.