Seth Michelson

Kaddish for my Unborn Son

Stillborn at sixteen weeks,
you prove we exist
where we’re erased. That afternoon
I watched myself
bound away through a snowy field:
like a jackrabbit, my legs pumping,
like a jackrabbit, my sparkling
tracks. By midnight I was lost,
baffled by the dark,
while I sat in silence
on my couch, miles beyond
my wife beside me, her body
cold, hollowed,
a distant cabin in a snowstorm.
May his name grow exalted.
Diego, do you hear me?
The only sound
that stills the forest
is the rustle of a hunter’s boots.
His blast will come from outer darkness,
echo in living ears, the woods
grown tense, alert with terror,
while dogs howl, and we stand stiff, blinking.
Bless the name Diego forever and ever.
But duration is a shotgun’s blast,
the orange shell that’s triggered:
its case splits, spits forth buckshot,
hundreds of hot, bright bits diverge.
Now see a single pellet only:
alone in space,
racing forward until it strikes
a running rabbit: it
splits the fur, the flesh,
bursts the bassinet of the ribs,
then bores into the beating, hot heart.
Blessed is he beyond any blessing or song.
Then comes the blast
of earthly epithets, which strike
nothing, diverge in spittle,
words disassembling
into syllables, sounds, then silence.
May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life.
Diego: the rabbit’s shadow,
the shotgun’s blast.
Diego: the hunter’s field,
snow-filled, its ice glinting.

Mighty, upraised and lauded be the name,

Diego: charred tip
of a matchstick,
body of white flame,
a flesh of vapor,
smell of gunpowder,
the sound of wind
through a stand of pine trees.
Praised be fire, praise light and snow,
praise the rabbit in the field,

the shotgun fires once more
but misses.
Sparkling tracks,
an expanse of snow,
and I’m in my living room, still
sleepless: dawn
blazing in the curtains,
my wife asleep
on my shoulder, her breath
warm on my neck, and so sweet
it could kill me.

Seth Michelson