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By Lisa Katz

Lisa Katz  |  Winter 2008  -  Number 212


Leaning at the Bar in Jerusalem with Walter Benjamin

During a time of terror
there is a desire
to overcome reality
by viewing its reproduction.

In my daughter’s photograph
a woman sits with her back to us,
black hair falling downward
to the elastic rim of her strapless dress,
her right elbow leaning on the bar,
her hand holding sunglasses in motion
so that on film
they explode.
Two women lean toward her,
one with a closed and one with an open mouth.
Observation in a state of distraction
is increasing. 

Three young women at the bar,
their bodies brim over their clothes
like foam.  Identical ceramic teapots
imprinted with shooting stars
shoot, shoot their way across a shelf,
the room papered in stripes
whose flat ropes of thorny roses
ascend the wall.  Outside
there is a separation wall but 
the public
is  absent-minded.

On the wooden bar, three
mobile phones, three packs of cigarettes,
two round plastic ashtrays
a cup filled with packets of sugar
and sugar substitutes,
a novelty ashtray topped by a ninja fighter,
and a collection box for orphaned children. 
And to the right,
a tall beer siphon
topped with a handle
shaped like a grenade. 
We experience our own destruction
as an aesthetic pleasure.

Lisa Katz won the 2008 Mississippi Review Poetry Prize. Reconstruction, a volume of her poetry in Hebrew translation, was published this year by Am Oved Press .

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