Toss off your Moroccan slippers, lay your wet socks
on the radiator while we drink tea and talk of our sons,
how time crafted them into men. After your feet thaw
and the tea bags form seashells at the bottom of our cups
I will tell you that the whole house is a membrane, porous
to the shouts in the street, the stench of our neighbor's weed,
the sweetness of her garlic as it caramelizes in a pan.
We have no curio cabinets to preserve what we tried to save,
only the lines that deepen around our eyes, the tales of
your seafaring uncle’s dinghy that weathered an Atlantic storm,
my return to Venice and how the steps where I sat as a girl
have been submerged for years, sinking lower still.
Ask me if you can stay for a week and I will invite you
to flop backwards on the unmade beds, indent your body
on our rumpled sheets, your beaded slippers waiting
by the door like sentries at the gate to a holy kingdom.
Amy Gottlieb's poems have appeared in the Ilanot Review, Storyscape, On Being, Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, and elsewhere. Her poetry manuscript, Sabbath Cinema, was a semi-finalist for the 2019 Orison Poetry Prize. Her debut novel, The Beautiful Possible (Harper Perennial), was a finalist for the Ribalow Prize, Wallant Award, and a National Jewish Book Award. She lives on the edge of the Hudson River in the Bronx.