Even if she reached the end of letters, 
of roads. Of calendar grids and meals
served. Even at the end of the body’s 
order—the liver’s gather 
and flush, the heart’s neat applause 

for itself—still a fogged way 
tears open. Still four a.m. arrives 
and the beloved’s place in bed empties 
and the door locks behind him  
as he walks into another morning. 

Even then no specter rises 
from the Delaware with its cool 
green gaze, its gentle 
supplication of the shore, 
to collect her up from this unspooling. 

Neither the all-night gaslight, nor 
the crowd spilling out from the bars. 
Neither this knot of card-players 
on the stoop, nor this climax 
of fireworks. Not this aurora, and not 

the plane signaling its landing, certainly not  
the refinery explosion. Not this longed-for 
text message nor that butterfly migration 
comes to rescue her from her days, 
no matter their numerology or 

her pious waiting, no matter her body 
cleansed and bared. No matter 
her prostration on this wooden 
bridge between worlds, the current lapping 
hungrily at the smooth stones below. 
She says this tkhine on her child’s first birthday, the world unfolding


20. Is it a common belief that the appearance and resemblance of children depends on what the mother sees during the time she is leaving the mikve and during her pregnancy?


Leah Falk is the author of To Look After and Use (Finishing Line Press, 2019). Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, FIELD, Electric Literature, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, she lives in Philadelphia and directs programming at the Writers House at Rutgers University-Camden.

About the Series: These poems are a part of our ongoing series exploring isolation, exile, and “The Everyday Pandemic.” With the arrival of COVID-19 new realities emerged. Isolation became ubiquitous. Everyday movement suddenly came with great risk. The spaces that once brought order and safety became malleable and uncertain. Throughout this series it is our hope to create an alternative conversation to the dominant COVID-19 discourse: one that captures the daily toll of life through the pandemic from the perspective of writers and artists who are familiar with the experience of isolation and exile. With this in mind, we’ve collected stories, poems, nonfiction essays, and digital art from writers and artists from all walks of life and from all around the globe.

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