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Letter from the North

Read by Adam Clay

Is it spring in Philadelphia yet?
I’m still waiting for the river to unfreeze.
The buds must be poking up in the garden now.
I put so many seeds in the soil I have no idea what to expect.
Were you in the lab all day?
Do the cats have enough water?
It seems like every day the snow melts,
Then freezes, then melts,
Then it snows all over again.
You’re getting spring first.
I’ve never been this far north this time of year.
I came here to see what would happen.
I buried myself in the snow,
Listening for something.
It’s breathing quietly.
I miss you. Don’t forget to take out the compost
On Thursday. What are you making for dinner?
I thought I would discover something here.
The earth is so still.
Someone said they saw an otter
Scuttling across the frozen river
But I missed it. I think I figured
Out one thing: that quivering
Feeling in my heart comes straight
From the earth’s mantle.
And there are no metaphors.
I’m sitting here waiting in the plain snow.

Hila Ratzabi was selected by Adrienne Rich as a recipient of a National Writers Union Poetry Prize and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the author of the chapbook The Apparatus of Visible Things (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry is published or forthcoming in The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, Narrative, Alaska Quarterly Review, and others. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, and lives in Philadelphia where she founded the Red Sofa Salon & Poetry Workshop.