Margo Berdeshevsky

As the Land Listens
February 24, 2019 Berdeshevsky Margo




Women are gathering on shore after shore after sharp rocked shore, bodies and their memories merged, bruise colored storm clouds shifting with words and swords and naked breasts, and stories to tell. Women like me who never wanted to be warriors, who loved and still love silk and tenderness and a man who makes love with that song-made-famous “slow hand.”  And the powerful males and wannabe powerful are wagging their power like dying gods. Old skins.


When it is over/ if it is over will women forget the bodies they did not want on top of them, the mouths they did not want to kiss or love, yet wailing, whoppa, whoppa, whoppa! the way one who told me I was his wife in the dark did, and I knew I was not but I so needed to be loved … Wanted some girl-child costume of love, I let him pretend. Until a morning I looked at my black eye in a tiny hand-mirror above my bed.


And he had left my bed and my road and my body at dawn – and looking at my bruised eye, broken self and dimmed-eye sense of self, I  remembered the kindergarten teacher who had told me, now dear, you have to understand the little boy who beat you – who’d beaten me – because his daddy was in the war. I had forgotten. I had buried that shame and that eye and that teacher and that boy like a dead cat. After-all, thirty plus years had passed since I was taught to understand aggression and violence and to excuse it because a man may be forgiven, a boy must be understood, and forgiven. Because.


Women in the land of my birth are gathering. Angry ravens, gathering like wounded and “woke” warriors on shore after sharp rocked shore. “Never more.” Shouts into the skies and into one another’s eyes. And quiet as I am, my deep notes are rising. Silken as I am, my claws, lengthening. Matured body and arthritic hips and brave and not very brave and hopeful and hopeless soul as I am, hermit woman as I often am, love-hungry as I may be, still be – I am joining with the many.


I remember Jacob battling the angel in the Bible my dictatorial father deemed I must learn. And I think of this sentence, “I will not let thee go unless thou bless me.”  Hurts have healed and torn open and healed. But who must be blessed and who must bless, and in the French language, “blesser” means to wound. Is blessing a blessing, or a wound, then? Or when will the sound of hope and the silence of peace echo between cloud and rock and branch?


When I was a child I was hardly a child. Old soul, some called me. Actress learning to be a hundred different women, not only the one in my sheets and ballerina’s mirror. Hand stroking her own flesh, her own skull, there there darling. When you are a grown woman you will be a powerful one. There there actress. When you are a star the moon will hold you until the arms called love appear and surround you. None will harm you. None will degrade or demean you. Your words and your beauty will be both canopy and quilt, and you will sleep with blessing and be touched by angels.


When I was a child, I dreamt as a child. When I became a woman I carried childish things within my skin, sewn with invisible threads known only to my locked in heart. When I became an old woman – the woman I am now –  I heard the others with bodies not so different than my own, breasts and cunts and hips and blondness, howls and yearning in my teeth. And I walked to shores to straighten my body, pull my shoulders back, open my mind – and stand with theirs.


Women are gathering on shore after shore after sharp rocked shore, bodies and their/our memories “blesh-ing” like bruise colored storm clouds with swords and naked breasts and stories to tell. Women like me who never wanted to be warriors, who loved and still love silk and tenderness and a man who makes love with that song-made-famous “slow hand.” And I walked to the edge of an old and used up world and hummed a tune of invention. I unpainted  bruises and colored my eyes transparent. Qui garde son ame d’enfant ne veillit jamais. (Who keeps her soul of a child will never age.) That was written in invisible ink on the ground in front of me, and I spit on the ground and turned three times round, tiny ritual of magic. Magic? Why age? Why live forever with such a mantra? No answer. But a black bird fell out of my heart and she sang.


MARGO BERDESHEVSKY, born in New York city, often lives and writes in Paris. Her latest poetry collection, “Before The Drought,” is from Glass Lyre Press. In an early version, it was finalist for the National Poetry Series. A new poetry collection, “It Is Still Beautiful To Hear The Heart Beat” is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. A hybrid book, “Kneel Said the Night” waits at the gate. Berdeshevsky is author as well of “Between Soul & Stone,” and “But a Passage in Wilderness,” (Sheep Meadow Press.) Her book of illustrated stories, “Beautiful Soon Enough,” received the first Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Award for Fiction Collective Two (University of Alabama Press.) Other honors include the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her works appear in Poetry International, New Letters, Kenyon Review, Plume, The Collagist, Tupelo Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Southern Humanities Review, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, The American Journal of Poetry, Jacar—One, Mānoa, Pirene’s Fountain, Big Other, Dark matter: Women Witnessing, among many others. In Europe and the UK her works have been seen in The Poetry Review, PN Review, The Wolf, Europe, Siècle 21, Confluences Poétiques, Recours au Poème, Levure Littéraire, Under the Radar. She may be found reading from her books in London, Paris, New York City, Los Angeles, Honolulu, at literary festivals, and/or somewhere new in the world. Her “Letters from Paris” have appeared for many years in Poetry International online. Here is one:  For more information, kindly see here :