Anoth­er Word for Sky

  • Review
By – March 9, 2012

Thore­au would prob­a­bly have liked the poems in the first sec­tion of Michaelson’s col­lec­tion. In Rever­ie near White Rock, New York, he describes a back­wa­ter town near bridges and ditches…wearing pre­fab­ri­cat­ed homes like so much cos­tume jew­el­ry. These used to be the places they called quaint.” And Emer­son would have liked the sug­ges­tion of the Over­soul in the poem Sea­sons Going North: 

Smoke blends in with the sky with the air full of cool, with a sud­den drop in tem­per­a­ture, like an incantation 

How­ev­er, the lat­er sec­tions con­tain dark­er poems that move away from nature as metaphor, to state­ments relat­ed to the trag­ic vision of life; 

Tragedies, like being buried alive, are: being declared insane and unable to prove oth­er­wise… real­iz­ing late in life that most deci­sions were wrong. 

And then Michael­son turns to eroti­cism and its ironies: 

Yes, I am check­ing you out on Sim­chas Torah You are sweat­ing, you are danc­ing, your breath stinks of vod­ka, Your white shirt is plas­tered to your chest, Its but­tons are part­ly undone, You look like an entrant in a Yeshiv­ish wet t‑shirt contest. 

The last few poems view lust as a form of prayer, and learn­ing as seductive: 

When you are study­ing you invol­un­tar­i­ly open your mouth just a half an inch as if to drink up the juices of the text. 

The merg­ing of seduc­tion and love and their con­nec­tion to God is han­dled in a high­ly orig­i­nal and total­ly per­son­al man­ner which is refresh­ing to read.

Eleanor Ehrenkranz received her Ph.D. from NYU and has taught at Stern Col­lege, NYU, Mer­cy Col­lege, and at Pace Uni­ver­si­ty. She has lec­tured wide­ly on Jew­ish lit­er­a­ture and recent­ly pub­lished anthol­o­gy of Jew­ish poet­ry, Explain­ing Life: The Wis­dom of Mod­ern Jew­ish Poet­ry, 1960 – 2010.

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