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Judging Elijah

A Just Place

[A response to A. R. Ammons’ "In Memoriam Mae Noblitt"]

There’s no such thing as "just a place": some walk deserts, coil in

the tanks of trucks, tear themselves under fences, looking for a just place

as if there were such a thing as justice: still, we are the place that made us,

low-slung limbs if there were trees, the climb if there were mountains:

if we are brown, we are the sun that browned us, the clipper if we’re cold.

Judging Elijah


At Rosh Hashana dinner, all talk is of the coming of Elijah.

Elijah Josiah or Josiah Elijah, my brother tells me they will call my nephew. I think he is kidding and laugh. He places proud hands on his girlfriend’s belly. I conjure a t-shirt, Messiah on board.



Last summer in Maine, my wife and I saw Josiahs everywhere. Apparently a number of them built Ogunquit. We will call the dog, when our hypothetical kids ask for one, Josiah Treehorn.



My brother is a crack addict. Will that make his baby a crack baby? Will that make me a crack aunt?



My parents tell me the name now is Elijah Star so he will have his father’s initials.

What must it be like, to think you bear repeating?




Jessica Reed‘s poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, Tin House, LIT, and The Huffington Post, and is forthcoming in the anthology Satellite Convulsions: Poems from Tin House. She is the 2007 recipient of the Marie Ponsot Poetry Prize and the Jerome Lowell Dejur Award. Originally from Asheville, North Carolina, she lives in New York City, where she spends M-F/9-5 as a technical writer and where she received her MFA from the the City College of the City University of New York.

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