a mi sheberach
The Mi Sheberach is sung at Jewish religious services, a prayer for healing.
for so long, i wanted to be pink,
like my tights, like the ribbons,
soft and satin.
i wanted to fit just right,
like blush fastening itself to my cheeks
and forehead when it’s the middle of the night
and the sun still burns in the air,
like the last drops of afternoon sliding
off the clouds to follow it.
i wanted to be girl, to be sweet,
to be rose without thorns,
to be dress, to be pure.
i resented red in all her brashness.
i burned myself ironing a blouse
and now pink looks at me with sad eyes
scaly and rough and
now i want to be wood
to be leather to be coffee no cream no sugar
i want to be earth
to be earth
to be earth turning umber where i have spilled blood a renewal of body
but i know that when pink
has turned brown again
my body will not forget
the shape of the wound
Monique Jonath is 18 years old and lives in Oakland, California, where she was born and raised by her Jewish Californian father and Congolese mother. She has been a ballet and modern dancer her whole life and started writing poetry in her freshman year of high school. She was a finalist for the title of Oakland Youth Poet Laureate in both 2018 and 2019. Since then, she has taken a poetry writing seminar, hosted virtual poetry readings, and her work has been featured in the YouthSpeaks Anthology, Between My Body and the Air (2020). This fall, she started her first year of college at Brown University, where she hopes to major in Psychology and take creative writing courses.