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Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Yael Flusberg

December 7, 2010 ·

A moment of verse, brought to you by the folks from Split This Rock Poetry Festival.

WAITING OUTSIDE THE U.S. CAPITOL WHERE SHE LIES IN STATE,
EVE OF ALL SOULS

The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.
-Rosa Parks

after the first three hours
the temperature dropped to visible breath.
my fall coat no longer protected and my toes
went numb so i tried to transcend time
by thumbing a rose quartz bracelet
each bead proof of my will to persist,
my mother always said standing appels*
for hours was a sentence of death
for the weak.  

in the muddy field where thousands of souls made solitary
by the cold snaked around a makeshift fence,
i found a handful of warmth, a single ruby glove.  

i practiced standing meditation following the ringing
in my ears to keep my mind from wondering why
i was on this line, not in my down-covered bed
when i’d see the coffin just as well in the newspaper
in the morning.  each time i lifted my sole i knew
i was one step closer to the dome with 108 windows
like a rosary i could pray with my eyes.

it was dawn when i finally circulated once around
the ceremonial space then down to the crypt below
where i begged that her being where she was
would bless where she was laying – and all of us
who’ll never have moments like hers on the bus
will still find something worth standing up for.

-Yael Flusberg

From The Last of My Village. Used by permission.  

* In the Nazi concentration camps, inmates had to stand appels – a protracted roll call – twice a day regardless of weather or exhaustion.  Some gave birth to babies buried on the spot.  Many others dropped dead during the hours-long appels or were killed if they couldn’t maintain an erect posture.

Yael Flusberg’s nineteen-poem collection The Last of My Village reveals how a legacy of familial and cultural sorrow can be shaped—much like a poem—into the capacity to begin again.  The Last of My Village won Poetica Magazine's 2010 Chapbook Contest, and is available at www.poeticamag.com.  When not writing, Yael integrates creative, somatic and reflective practices into her work with social change organizations and leaders.  Visit her blog at www.yaelflusberg.wordpress.com  

Flusberg serves on the Board of Split This Rock.  She co-ran the workshop “Yoga and Poetry in Changing Times” at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.