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  • Under the Rug, and: Bedsprings, and: The Uses of the Past
  • Chana Bloch (bio)

Under the Rug

goes the argument you and I had better not have. One lick of the broom. May it rest in peace.

Not just any rug. This one’s a Persian. It still holds the angry stain of my first marriage. Now

it belongs to us. The vegetable dyes—our green star, my scarlet nightgown,

the blue you hurled across the room— have faded as we have. They look coarser on the underside.

There’s a clue woven into the carpet, the clumsiness of the weaver, perhaps his blunders in love,

but we can’t read his language. Nor can we find the one flaw he left by design: God alone can make anything perfect. [End Page 106]


Theirs was the one with the noisy bedsprings. How does a child solve a riddle like that? Scritchity-screech —are they fighting again?

Theirs was a marriage of drums and cymbals, a clashing-and-carping, nagging-and-clamoring rehearsed day in, day out.

Your mother wanted me dead or alive. A story of the year they met—his story, retold on the cancer ward. He was teasing her. She was laughing too! And I looked away as if I’d caught them in the act.

Out in the corridor she trumped his story with one of her own: “Daddy wanted to make love. The cancer had already begun to spread. I told him: But honey, your back! You know what your father answered? There’s nothing wrong with my front.”

I watched her shave him in the hospital bed. She was so tender it left me confused —one hand cupped to his chin, the other stroking his cheek with the razor. [End Page 107]

The Uses of the Past

Just out on Kindle: The Uses of the Past,the Present and the Future. Chapter 1. Arts & Crafts for Seniors: You can tie it in a knot, you can tie it in a bow. Hammer it down at all five corners. Spray it with fixative and hang it out to dry.

When I close my eyes, the past shuffles back with its ragbag tales, all rumpled and torn. Last night it sidled right past me looking the other way. I can play that game too

but I’ve got other plans. I am getting the past to point in one direction, steeled and sober as a compass needle. I mean to carry it with me, my trusty, my portable all-purpose guide.

Let’s see who’s the master now. Let’s just see the uses it will make of me. [End Page 108]

Chana Bloch

Chana Bloch is the author of four books of poems: The Secrets of the Tribe, The Past Keeps Changing, Mrs. Dumpty, and Blood Honey. She is co-translator of the Song of Songs, The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai and his Open Closed Open, and Hovering at a Low Altitude: The Collected Poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch.



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pp. 106-108
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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