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Jennifer Wolkin

The Birth of a Thousand Clichés

You, a broken heart,               can

lean toward                       cliché 

especially   when you            start

breaking into a thousand     pieces

uncontained &                unctuous

oozing         platitudes           like

fragments of death or a breakup

or an     unrequited              love.

In a poem      you’re              too

melodramatic.   Even my mentor

mentioned  that     writing       My

heart just   broke      into           a

thousand      pieces is over       the

top.          I agree,     but  I’m also

too tired          to search  my  brain

for        a         thousand  possible

metaphors   to  describe the    way

losing someone   who I         never

even      met         disjointed me—

how  when the doctor said      You

can’t    have    children    because

your    ovaries            are   empty

all        thousand pieces of      you

dropped into              my uterus—

how then those               thousand

clichés took  to banging     against

a wall   of  organ          protruding

like a     fistula   from          places

where  a    fetus  will     never kick.


A sonogram of a          uterus filled

with your scattered              pieces

sounds         like                a bass

guitar            being           played

underwater:                  muffled  &

muddled        into an oblivion    of

baritone fluid.           It’s a miracle,

at least,  how  you                 can

break              but still           beat

anywhere                  all thousand



Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh

In my other life, I marry a man, my high school sweetheart, have his babies, and move five minutes from where I grew up. We send our kids to a modern yeshiva, where they learn both Judaic and English studies. I cook us dinners, kugel and cholent, and we go to shul on Shabbos to pray with our community who wouldn’t dare welcome the woman who I am now, in this life, because I’d be known as a spinster, not having been betrothed yet, only educated, which in yet another life would be completely unheard of, if I married the man I met in Israel, a Breslov Chasid from Tsfat, a place I still go to in this life, in my dreams, because the Lecha Dodi this Chasid would daven as the Friday sun set over the city still moves me even though I don’t know how to reconcile this image, because it also contains my children, boys with big white knitted yarmulkes and long payot calling me Ima, eagerly telling me about the parsha of the week. Those children wouldn’t have played with the children I might have had in this life had I not been barren, so clearly blessing less. The woman I am in this life grieves in the arms of her partner, sad, but wholly holy, holy.


Jennifer Wolkin is a health and neuro psychologist, speaker, mental health advocate, and mindfulness-meditation practitioner. She just started her MFA in creative writing and literary translation at Queens College and couldn't be happier about pursuing this dream.

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