“Crushes” by Ori Fienberg

Ori Fienberg


Most have heard stories of the lead-covered
Bibles soldiers of the great wars carried into
battle, whose words protected their hearts.
But when bibles ran out they used other books;

pocket dictionaries, conversational French or
a pamphlet of poetry, moved from gunnysacks,
making more room for words, to be passed back
home. And after the bullets enter the prayer for

peace of their choosing, they become heirloom
seeds of lead planted in letters, which change to
mulch in drawers, attics, and unsealed, lightless
cedar chests, which also store their hearts: love

letters and Reichsmarks with watermarks, or
rain marks, or tear marks, obscuring history. But
children who find these obscured pages are well
versed in erasure, for though the school library

shut long ago due to lack of funds, they’ve always
known the wars continue and each has been given
a bullet-proof backpack, calculator, lunch bag, or
one slim textbook, for a class they all fear they may

need to take, though they don’t know the location,
it’s not on the schedule, and there’s no way to study,
so they pass folded notes in study hall to friends, to
crushes asking what matters most: do you like me?

Would you take me out after school? Would you take
a bullet for me? Would you pin it to your jacket above
your heart? Would you hold it in your arms at the last
dance so everyone knows this bold brass boy is yours?

from Poets Respond
November 17, 2019


Ori Fienberg: “There are no reasonable words to describe a school shooting, or the stress that students of all ages must bear every day in knowing that weapons of war, or any weapon, may be used against them while they learn.” (web)

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