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Charlotte Mandel


 for Benjamin, five days old

I am breaking apart with happiness
My body, that river slowly adding
tarry silences

an upward cascade of radiance

I had not known that I revolved in a cloak
of unborn space--
the light I could not reflect,
itself a darkness,

There is
        no separate

The drops of me
ravish the light, every sip
an open wing

This poem first appeared in Response: A Magazine of Contemporary Jewish Thought (Spring 1983).
Used here with the author's permission.


Charlotte Mandel wrote her first poem at the age of eight and her second a quarter of a century later. Why the hiatus? She was of a time when girls were taught they must be safely married by the age of eighteen. And so she was—fortunately, happily—and remains so, even after decades of anniversaries. Unfortunately, it took many years before Charlotte realized she could be married and have the right to explore the power of words. She has claimed that right to the fullest and now has two degrees, seven books, and a host of accolades that include an endorsement by Maxine Kumin, who calls her work "crisp and lucid," an appearance at the Dodge Poetry Festival, and nearly a dozen fellowships and residencies. Learn more about Charlotte at

Post New Comment:
Posted 09/12/2010 01:00 PM
Ginny C.:
lovely poem
Posted 09/12/2010 10:15 AM

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