Marcela Sulak




Yes, I was one of
a hundred other women
bathing in the film,

I mean the sacred
ritual bath, across the lap
top of the rabbi.

I sent a headshot.
The detective confirmed I’m
a collectible.

With the statute of
limitations all run out;
am I liminal
in the court-light, bare-
ly visible on filmy
evidence—a year
the lime of time licked
clean. I did and didn’t wash
in the mikveh from

my public body
the baby’s bloody exit,
finger prints of post
-office clerks, grocery
checkers that sanctified my
belly-me on both
sides of 16th street
in Washington, DC—the
law’s blurry here. Was
holiness washed off
or on in that room (I glow
too hard, blind justice
and I hate to be
fixed on film) but you, the ex
pert of legal thresh-
holds know holy means
reserved for special use, off
-limits to the pub

lic, as in: a
body in a sacred bath.
The secular is
the mirror of the
sacred, the mikveh’s ante-
chamber. So maybe
you were just glancing
in the mirror when you saw
me, before the stat
utory dust rag
swiped the image. My belly’s
shined like slick steel since.
Thus what you saw was
n’t me. The prosecutor’s
on the phone (me: “re

she: no, he’ll do time). I’ve year
-missed the chance to ask
what it means to make
somebody already fam
iliar with what time
does and doesn’t do,
(the video recorder,
of course, an alarm

ing clock, flicking red
numbers like a dealer) do
time? But as a you

your observer self
was outside time and space be
fore—so it’s fit that

one whose eyes entered
forbidden bodies unbid
be bound in a cell.

which is the smallest part of
a woman’s sacred body.


MARCELA SULAK’s poetry collections include Decency and Immigrant. She’s co-edited Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres. Fourth poetry collection translation, Twenty Girls to Envy Me: The Selected Poems of Orit Gidali, was longlisted for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. She hosts the TLV.1 radio podcast “Israel in Translation,” and edits The Ilanot Review. She is Associate Professor of Literature at Bar-Ilan University.


Read more by Marcela Sulak:

Poem in Guernica
Poem in Diode
Poem in Tinderbox