Excerpt from Birkat HaBayit: A Woman Is a Bird When by Jen Karetnick

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The following poem was the winner of the 2020 Tiferet Writing Contest in poetry. It appears in our Autumn/Winter issue.

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wood under feet, dressed in flower parts,
she surveys her private garden, ragtag,
but everything in it equal to her heart.

Downsize, they tell her. It’s only a start.
Learn to bolster what’s beginning to sag.
Wood under feet, dressed in flower parts,

a woman is a thorn, poisonous dart.
Planes fly away from the kite of her back,
everything in them equal to her heart;

jen-karetnick-head-shot-credit-zoe-cross
Photo by Zoe Cross

JEN KARETNICK is the author of five full-length poetry collections, including Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming spring 2023); The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, August 2020); and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize. She is also the author of five poetry chapbooks, including The Crossing Over (March 2019), winner of the 2018 Split Rock Review Chapbook Competition. Her poems have been awarded the Hart Crane Memorial Prize, the Romeo Lemay Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, and two Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes, among others. Her work appears recently or is forthcoming in Barrow Street, The Comstock Review, december, Michigan Quarterly Review, Terrain, Under a Warm Green Linden, and elsewhere. Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, Jen is currently a Deering Estate Artist-in-Residence. Find her on Twitter @Kavetchnik and Instagram @JenKaretnick, or see jkaretnick.com.

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