Agunah

Agunah*


In absentia, he holds — you,
tichel-crumpled, bare-legged
and humbled, shown your hair
in the shuq, shorn of husband.

Alone, the shuq is a sudden holding:
Flies and bees abandon the sweets seller.
Fish leap, cut open themselves open
at your feet. Who sways behind you,

but the kind of men who pluck them
from the dust and still hawk
sloppy-fleshed, the blood
already too many days old.

How long can the faded-rose gills
hold that last gasp,
long enough to read such dull eyes,
past their prime and most peculiar?


*A halachic term for a woman who, in this case, has been abandoned by her husband.




About the Author: Rosebud Ben-Oni is a playwright at New Perspectives Theater, where she's currently developing a new play, Shamhat, as part of their 20th Anniversary Season. Recently, her short story “A Way out of the Colonia” won the Editor's Prize at Camera Obscura: A Journal of Contemporary Literature and Photography. In Fall 2011, she spoke at the Women in the Arts conference as a playwright negotiating space and homosexual identity in the Middle East; the lecture, now titled as “Semaphore Toward Emptiness: A Meditation on Women and Jerusalem," has been accepted for publication by Trans-Portal: The Hub of Trans-formation Studies for its upcoming Winter 2012 issue. This past summer, VIDA selected her essay “On Writing Quimera and other Fears,” also based on her work for New Perspectives, for their State of the Art Feature.