Poems by Sarah Wetzel

Rack of Lamb

A pistachio tree straightens
toward the light. The light embracing  
its leaves. Dumb tree. Dumb flaming orb.
I name each one of them, my own—

Pour of cardamom tea, the slow
shuff of low tide like an echo
of the lover’s breath, a casting
out of birds’ nests,
                             all those laced nests
gathering in gutters, and the warm rain
that follows them. Say my name back
at me. Dumb you. Dumb human heart.

I am preparing rack of lamb
with crushed pistachio. I cry
over the dead lamb, shorn of wool,
the pink meat, over its tiny
broken ribs.
                        My husband’s mother
prepared the same dish. Years from now,
my husband will tell me he never
liked lamb, even his mother’s.

Let this happen with no khamsin,
                        in a year with no sweltering
coat of sharav, in the year when
Israel’s grape harvest is halved
eaten by chukar partridges
feasting on the low-hanging fruit.

There are more than seven hundred
pistachio trees growing wild
in Israel’s remotest deserts,
most there centuries—their fruit though
              All those wasted
lambs, all that inaudible light.


Through the wall, a bush next door is begging
me to buy pomegranates, small bombs
more fickle than apples. As if it’s already

winter when all the sinners in hell
are paired, all the lovers, when the bush’s
extravagant flowers
                                   the color of poppies
turn poisonous, the small brown finches
still yearning to carry the seeds

inside their bodies. The tree next door
flings its fruit at my feet, entreating me
to eat just a few. Yet if we can’t speak
                                                              of deceit
to one another, how can we speak of love?

Sarah Wetzel is the author of Bathsheba Transatlantic, winner of The Philip Levine Prize for Poetry and published in November 2010. A Pushcart Prize nominee for 2009 and 2010, her work appears in US and Israeli publications including Barrow Street, Valparaiso, Quiddity, Rattle, Pedestal, Folly, Two Review, Nimrod and others.  Sarah divides time between Tel Aviv and Manhattan where she lives with a husband and one needy dog.

Infidelity was first published in Bathsheba Transatlantic, Anhinga Press, 2009.

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