Rachel Kaufman


Bent three times and       then some

in the covered chalky mess       of my hands inside

my hands         crawling through     whispered wet-

bellied gaps        in these gasps           are filled   moon-bright   sweet

as I crinkle under         my grasp on body       is spilling   over  into  

light and light     this heat-felted choir    collages me   into nothing

and I tuck my corners in          alone find joy like ecstasy        like body

as it comes into itself    and breathes open    into pieces     like supple glass

cascades from my mouth to my     chest  falls and falls          convex to canyon as

light rains down in chords     written by hand       written by mouth      can I put

my mouth        on song          and shake (it) to its end       I have found        the full moment

when the choir            breaks  into a thousand  notes          and they cry    to the wall

and cling          in open-mouthed wonder         that our bodies can make

that my body just made            I am seething in sound         me full-voiced 

Rachel Kaufman is a poet, teacher, and PhD candidate in Latin American and Jewish history at UCLA. Her work explores diasporic memory and transmission, and her dissertation focuses on the Mexican Inquisition and cross-ethnic networks of female religious ritual in colonial Mexico City. Her first poetry book, Many to Remember (Dos Madres Press, 2021) enters the archive’s unconscious to unravel the histories of New Mexican crypto-Jews alongside the poet's own family histories. Her chapbook, And after the fire, won the 2020 JuxtaProse Chapbook Prize and is grounded in the language and myth of the Talmud. Her poetry has appeared on poets.org and in the Harvard Review, Southwestern American Literature, Western Humanities Review, JuxtaProse, and elsewhere, and her prose has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Rethinking History, The Yale Historical Review, Diagram, and Comedia Performance: Journal of the Association for Hispanic Classical Theater. She is currently a poet-in-residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, NM.