Qaemot for What Would Make Us Planets

Rosebud Ben-Oni

Bloody too the planets, how they

              aligned that dead of day, the first

                        of my marriage, bloody the precision

                                  a friend scrawled into a table

                                            cloth of our solar system —

                                                      Yes — absolutely, bloody

                                                                that, upon checking later,

                                                                          it was correct, all that

                                                    :: data ::

                                            & algorithms,

                                  Mercury to Neptune

                    to dwarf planets

              still orbiting the sun

the august you & I buried them along

with Kiddush cup

& plate & vows,

the glass

he trampled on,

& the long,

              long marriage

tallit the rabbi herself

              had wrapped he & me in — bloody, still too,

                        the docile hooves

                                  of my near bare

                        shoulders, covered in a finely netted

                                            mantilla —

                                                      for how — it — preys,

                                                                the Ketubah

I alone penned

knowing it would never hold up

in rabbinical court —      bloody it was invalid

              the day I married him,

                        filled with vows

                              of only love & no legal

                                            :: tender :: — & bloody

                                  that day of so much burying,

                        you traced a broken

tree, nearly split

in half & I

didn’t know right

away was dead

as the promise I made

to the rabbi in you alone

                                                            must do the digging

                                                      for the burden & strength it will take

                                            from you          to do          the leaving —

                                                                & bloody this, my

confession: that it was you who severed

what thick, unyielding roots

got in our way

of the hole we made

out of soft, reddish under-

earth graced

with hard


deep &


from lightning

that must’ve struck

the tree as my body

so thin &


& ever ill-

equipped, my flimsy

sundress with a high-

cut slit & your hands

rubbing my legs

with insect

repellent — yes, bloody this, the more

          we buried, the smaller



the tick


to bloody into me

& off my skin you pinched

as I read the V’ahavta

now :: orbit


but in motion,

I suppose, the way

an electron smears

like a cloud

around its

atom, that

so elementary & unseen



at once.

Bloody this, I think.

Bloody how it twists over vast



what weight

would make us



Author’s Note: A Qaemot is a sort of prayer for a Jewish exorcism. This is part of a new series on “exorcism poems” for the author.


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