Home > Words of Power > Go My Uncle and Fetch the Bride

Go My Uncle and Fetch the Bride

September 18, 2009

by Jane Rice

1.

Under the road
a floor

black heat kidnaps the sun

and the desert planes land, land, land

soldiers float dreams
in shallow-
dug holes

as if they need
only width of shoulders
length: with boots

as if they scoop
fading light
to keep it

world of stories below
spring from the sea

2.

Who remembers
the tree
the garden

words make faces
something
lies in wait

side street
of trembling

labyrinth
arms itself
with branches

stream trickles
no wider
than a wrist

who
remembers
pebbles

hand’s gray face
nostrils on fire
shaken

eyes echo

each voice
of a candle
sings to the tree

3.

Little thing
like distance

soldiering a nest
of stones

smoke fans gray
and gray
fans smoke

fluke of breath
revives

sky of crushed
tilts wandering

the word earth
limited to land

amounts
to flight

charcoal tree
against the mountain

as are pronouns for those
not in the room

one plus one equals and
distinct
not interchangeable

ears weep
even if eyes
refuse

dust of nameless inks
remember the tree all green

*

Note: A 16th century poem, know as L’Chah Dodi, is sung at Friday night services to welcome the sabbath bride. There are many variations on the tune and numerous translations. The literal translation of the first line is Go my uncle towards bride. I heard it translated as Go my uncle and fetch the bride. I loved that translation much better than another version I had read: Beloved, come to meet the bride (or) Let’s go, my friend, towards the bride. This summer I was studying prayer-book Hebrew as part of my process of converting to Judaism. We were studying possessives, hence an explanation of “my” uncle.

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Jane Rice lives in San Francisco and pursues her interests in poetry, art and art history. Please visit Propolis Press for information about her letterpress chapbook entitled Portrait Sitters.

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  1. September 18, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Oh! I love this poem! Love the poem, the words & the back story. This is one I will re-read again and again.

  2. Suzanne
    September 20, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    gorgeous poem, thank you Jane and to qarrtsiluni
    for the chance to see it here…

  3. J
    September 21, 2009 at 2:57 am

    Beautiful poem again.

  4. Barbara LaMorticella
    October 3, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    What a fine poem. The short lines here allow each small packet of words to sizzle a little before moving on, a momentary hesitation that allows a small charge to leap from line to line, building and building into a very powerful poem.

  5. Jane Rice
    October 5, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Thank you for your comment, Barbara.

  6. Vivian Margulies
    October 5, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    This is a beautiful poem. The specific images, so terse, so clear, provide a huge picture of “shtetl” life. At least that’s my interpretation . Maybe I’ve just been reading too much Yiddish poetry – in translation of course.

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