A Literary Magazine in Support of the Jewish Community

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"At Jewish Summer Camp" by Elya Braden

At Jewish Summer Camp

In that aging auditorium, all scuffed linoleum and hairline

cracks lacing faded walls, my stretching bones zinged

a xylophone of pain from ankle to hip while music bloomed,

kaleidoscope of whirling purples, dervish greens,

blazing reds and kissable pinks, bluebells and poppies,

mustard weed and day lilies dancing in yesterday’s meadow,

bobbing their bright heads, torn clouds ripping a cerulean sky.


Where else could I lose myself but in those notes, curving

and turning like a murmuration of starlings? No place

to hide in a bunk full of girls. Puberty, that fiendish puppeteer,

jerking our hormonal strings. Girls caught in the timeless time

between tossing balls and grabbing jacks in ones, twos, threes,

fours, and training bras, pit hair, that first rusty crust

of menstrual blood staining our panties with red shame.


Every night, I’d ached with loneliness, abandoned on day one

by my once-best friend, and yet, wasn’t God always there—

in the dust crawling up my legs, in the bees chorusing along a spill

of lemonade, in the sun freckling my shoulders, and now, weaving

patterns of B flat, C minor, F sharp into a technicolor symphony,

crescendoing behind my eyes, a cascading river of consolation

in which I bathed, alone, but not alone?

Elya Braden

Elya Braden is a writer and mixed-media artist living in Ventura County, CA, and is an editor for Gyroscope Review. She is the author of the chapbooks, Open The Fist (Finishing Line Press, 2020) and The Sight of Invisible Longing (Finishing Line Press, 2023). Her work has been published in Anti-Heroin Chic, Prometheus Dreaming, Rattle Poets Respond, Sequestrum, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, The Louisville Review, and elsewhere. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets. She can be found at www.elyabraden.com.



Elya Braden
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