Betty Aberlin


Tree of Life Synagogue Massacre

Middle of the night a bug flew into my left eye somehow as I slept, waking me,
and when I had flushed it out, I began to cry and could not stop, 
as though the whole avalanche of anti-semitism had crashed down
to join forces  - not to compare them! - 
with the daily routine terrors of people of color in "my" land. 
Do we now sing "this land WAS your land, this land WAS my land" 
when we march very beautifully lest we be called a Lefty Mob? 
I made sounds of grief I had never heard before, so hoarse & anguished
the baby kitty came over and draped herself under my chin to console me. 
I understand why Alan Ginsberg called his poem HOWL. 
The inexpressible groaning. the lunch church bell that sounds the hours of mourning,
in Pittsburgh, in Yemen, in Gaza, in Niger, in Ecuador - the bell that tolls for us & for democracy. 
How to mourn the dead? 
We are one body in this world and we are tearing ourselves apart,
shitting where we eat, destroying the marvelous planet.
Lit the yahrzeit candle in the sunlight of a year of grief. 
Life! The loose garment & the narrow gate.




Betty Aberlin, native New Yorker, actor in musical theater, comedy revues, children's television & Kevin Smith films, published The White Page Poems, responses to George MacDonald's 1880 Diary of an Old Soul in 2008 (Zossima Press). Studied creative writing at Bennington College with Bernard Malamud and Howard Nemerov. There she was accidentally put off poetry by a comment she took literally - "Cousin Betty you will never be a poet" - not knowing her teacher was quoting Dryden's response to Jonathan Swift. So much for higher education. Currently working on a one-act play & feeding the wild birds in a small town upstate, she is grateful and honored to be included in this spiritual volume.