In A Past Life

Rachel Abramowitz

              Tell me what you’re married to and I’ll tell you the book
              to read to get out of it. Tell me which of these pet store fish 
              you’re most attracted to and I’ll tell you that most likely you
              were a peasant in a former life, hundreds of years ago, 

              in a valley that looked up onto the lush expanse of baronial
              wealth you served. I’ll tell you about grief. I’ll tell you where
              they’ve hidden the pigeon babies, sickly and alien, valentine-pink.
              What do you want to hear? I carry this cheap pennywhistle 

              in case of a request on the wind. About grief: let me tell you: 
              it’s an oil slick in winter in a parking lot next to a frozen lake
              where men drill holes in the ice to get at the flesh beneath. 

              Over time you get used to that cheap song. Cleopatra splintered
              into many souls. There is an explanation for everything.

Rachel Abramowitz‘s poems and reviews have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Seneca Review, The Kenyon Review Online, Crazyhorse, Tupelo Quarterly, Oxonian Review, POOL, jubilat, Sprung Formal, Colorado Review, and others. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Oxford, and has taught English Literature at Barnard College in New York.