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


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

Click here to purchase this issue in digital format, read this poem and the rest of issue. Subscribe today to receive this issue and one more as part of your one-year subscription.

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;

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.

This is a small representation of the high-quality writings you’ll find in every issue of TIFERET.

We receive no outside funding and rely on digital issues, workshop fees, and donations to publish. If you enjoy our journal’s verbal and visual offerings, we hope you’ll consider supporting us in one of these ways.

Click Here to Purchase Digital Issues