Mira Rosenthal

Energy Accumulator


so admit it and be done with the admission

he believed and will believe forever now that all Jews live fleeing, blue fins of his prized ‘59 Chevy swimming through shadowed light, wheel grasped in his hand

after a fight, steering our driveway with the help of hydraulic power developed during World War II

my father weaves through redwoods that speak of accumulated rings

he is the sound of gravel popping under tires, the red glow of taillights momentarily braking before

he turns out of sight

and in my useless confession meant to locate him as sound akin to bullets ricocheting

nothing fades away, no frame closes, as at the end of an old movie, on the center of the screen like a circular shutter blinking to black

so he gets stuck, in time, an everyman and every city Jerusalem

red light absorbed into red bark

and if he is the admission, he is also the silence that comes before

and the echo that lasts in the ear like tinnitus, ringing out run, run, run


they will gather around his diagnosis during shiva and knot their fringes tight and say that Alzheimer’s was a blessing in the end

but there is no end

and the encircled scene on the decorative plate that catches my eye later that day reminds me of my father’s rages

placed in my hand, a porcelain adornment he gave as apology, after

and they will chant their hymn and consolation for seven days

and the tiny flowers on the plate will stay in their budding state on the shelf and, therefore, there is no end

and, therefore, no end to becoming

for seven days, a meadow holding tight to its bloom like

words on a page in the kitchen sink of my first apartment, water turning ink to frilly petals, making of his hateful script some other thing that’s delicate

on the leaves of his letter I knew better than to read


so admit how much I still have yet to learn of intuition, that flow of inner time, invisible homesickness

all Jews live fleeing and can never flee

if threat lives in some muscular state, so my father rummages in theories

of negative entropy, mesmerism, élan vital

hoping for curative aspects to come from magnetism accumulating inside an Orgone Box

the box stands in the corner of his therapy office, where two blue couches face each other, where he tries to look deep into the gaze of each of his patients

and stinging nettle perpetuates its green outside the window, leaves and stems covered in hypodermic hairs some scientists say can disrupt the body’s transmission of pain

inject histamine into a wound to override the original inflammation

and, therefore, I admit without the dread

of abandonment that has self-propagated and spread throughout my life, until it’s nothing but field after field

of stinging weeds I’m wading through with bare legs

that when I peeked into the porthole on the Orgone Box and saw my father sitting in its dark hollow, eyes closed to the light

something awoke, subconsciously, and I cradled it by constricting my lips as I turned away

and, therefore, he is shallow breath and rapid oxygen

he is a numbness and a buzzing inside my mouth


like the ball of bees at his back as he stumbles through the rhododendrons

through those blooms with freckles in their throats to the barn and calls out for me

through me, yelling to go to the store for antihistamine, though I’m not licensed yet to drive, so he

drives me through the burning

through our stand of redwoods, and we make it up the hill and around the first bend before he feels the surge like a wave

that simply washes through him, there, in the driver’s seat, taking the body with no time

for the thought to pass through the mind that I am grasping

the wheel and swinging the car into a driveway and yanking the emergency brake

all is silent: the heavy engine under its hood, releasing heat from so much sudden revving

seems to sigh with the sound of grit inside the gears, like my father

breathing through his teeth, passed out in a pool of his own piss

his mouth lolling open, his tongue for once soft and passive, vulnerable


the third and final admission is this: he didn’t die of bee stings nor drown in the sink with his blooming words

but he kept an EpiPen tucked in his breast pocket

and he kept on driving

and geneticists kept on debating the mechanism by which chemical markers express trauma

until I found myself running

running out of the conference room, running block after block at full tilt through the rebuilt streets of Warsaw

back to my hotel room to read again in private my sister’s text, saying our father was in hospice after all these years

of a battle that now might finally find its end


what happens next feels like peering through the lens of a microscope to see the slip of a bit of something staged under the clip

memory, it turns out, is like that

I keep adjusting the knob, trying to bring into focus

a single cell unknit from its whole

but it never resembles an object to touch or to grasp or to hold in my hand

what happens

next is a stinging inside my lips, as if I’ve bitten down hard, sitting on the edge

of the hotel bed next to the window, wondering

how the roses that cover the drapes can be blooming

given that they have no stems

Mira Rosenthal is the author of Territorial, a Pitt Poetry Series selection, and The Local World, winner of the Wick Poetry Prize. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, and residencies at Hedgebrook and MacDowell, she is an associate professor of creative writing at Cal Poly. She also translates contemporary Polish poetry.
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