The National Poetry Review
she is, our five year-old.
She speaks of chickens caught
in revolving turnstiles,
heads between bars pulled live
from severed necks onto
the assembly line. Wings. Feathers.
Knock-kneed tossed into the packing area
as if out of the air—
there are laws to prevent this, religious and otherwise.
Precisely at the point when you begin to develop
a conscience, you must find yourself
at war with your society.
And still, some bunkers—
ever immaculate inside,
protecting who I want or think myself to be,
make me suspicious.
Please, if you kill the animals,
she asks, don’t use those machines.
She’s learning to read.
In the video she wasn’t meant to see: metal poles
through ribs. Wings slapping
The law, like her, couldn’t care less how pure your heart.
Please use machines that don’t hurt—
she dictates for the letter we write the factory.
And that is why my daughter is lucky.
When you see the naked, Isaiah says, clothe them.
He doesn’t say: feel bad.
Mute, the law says: Make it not hurt.
Note: The quotation, Precisely at the point… is from James Baldwin’s “A Talk To Teachers.”
ANNIE KANTAR’s poems and translations of poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, as well as The Adirondack Review, The American Literary Review, Atticus, Barrow Street, Birmingham Review, Cincinnati Review, Drunken Boat, Entropy, Literary Imagination, Poetry International, Poet Lore, Rattle, Tikkun, The Journal, and elsewhere. Her translation from the Hebrew of With This Night, the final collection of poetry that Leah Goldberg published during her lifetime, was published by University of Texas Press (2011), and was shortlisted for the ALTA Translation Prize and reviewed in several publications. Currently, Kantar is writing a literary translation of the Book of Job, for which she was commissioned by Koren Publishers. She is also the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and a Fulbright Scholarship to translate Hebrew poetry.