City of Skypapers

Marcela Sulak

January 12, 2021

When I sit and when I stand,

when I wake and when I fall asleep
I am think­ing of it, it is a slight
pres­sure on the stom­ach the length of a
fin­ger, it is the sud­den ambiguous
move­ment, as if from a field of zinnias
a king­fish­er shot out of view before
the eye could reg­is­ter it, it might not
have been a king­fish­er, I might have
just imag­ined it, it could happen
at any moment, I might have
already missed it, it might not
even exist except in thinking
about it, which I nev­er do,
except when I sit and when I stand,
when I wake and before I fall
asleep, when I go out along the road,
when the chain comes off my bike
and I yank it from the gears
and lift the rear tire, and guide
it back on, when I wipe my hands
of grease, when I run along the river,
when I get home with my dirt-streaked
legs, while I am grind­ing cof­fee, while
I am wait­ing for it to boil, while I am
select­ing clothes pins for the socks
and snap them to the line, which will
break soon­er, rather than lat­er, and I
say this, too, will hap­pen sooner
rather than lat­er, the laun­dry line
has been repaired with plas­tic twine,
with rib­bons from box­es of chocolate,
when I set the table, when I remove
the plates, when the water is running
from the tap, while wait­ing for it to
grow hot. Oth­er­wise, I am perfectly
still inside my breath, which I send out
into the world, which always comes back to me.

Discussion Questions

From her home in Israel, Marcela Sulak records the con­ti­nu­ity between the per­son­al and the nation­al as well as the present and the his­toric. Ground­ed in the Jew­ish cal­en­dar and land­scapes of Tel Aviv, and leav­ened with self-dep­re­cat­ing humor, these poems exam­ine what it took to get here today,” and these todays add up into this rich, max­i­mal­ist col­lec­tion. Poems engage with the Arab – Israeli con­flict, Gaza, and race in per­son­al ways. Oth­er poems doc­u­ment sin­gle moth­er­hood and quo­tid­i­an moments with clar­i­ty and pow­er. Time ripens” in Sulak’s poems on the vines and limbs, along the laun­dry line.” A full life emerges in these pages, and we are enriched by hav­ing inhab­it­ed that life.