Descent from Golemhood

Descent from Golemhood

By Josie Levin

I am the descendant of golems

Women shaped from clay

With contracts molded

to the bottom of their tongues

When the fabric of my skirt

Scrapes against my dry knees

I think of the layers of skin

Built up under my grandmother's eyes

Her wrinkles, shaped in the palm

Of a heavy handed sculptor

The imprints of a man’s fingertips

Pulling that skin


As if they first rested there 

a decade ago and only now 


Our layers are pooling 


and lower

With the passing of each year.

Till, in our old age,

they slip from our skin 


Instead, amassing in dust clouds

At the boney tips of our ashen toes

My grandmother and I are bound

By the same hide, hidden behind words

Spit out in the same saliva soaked ink

Like the mitzvah etched along the inside of my jaw

Would be so easily destroyed

By waters entrenched in the depths of my throat

My father was a potter

He shaped vases from dirt

Molded a wife from a woman

Her body wasn’t clay


But her mind was just as malleable

Golems are not material made

Were shaped, spread out,

substance notwithstanding

We are always stronger in our youth

Less likely to crumble under the spit

Of our shapers

In testament to my clay nature

Skin stretches

Across the back of my neck

around the imprint

Of a man's grip

The ghost of his hand

Caging in my throat

The way the indent pushes

the paper under my tongue

Out to the light

Melting wax off my lips

To brush against my clenched teeth

And the words pushing behind

There is heat 

hitting the vessel 

Around the paper

With my commandment

Inscribed within 


The slip between

Waxen body melting

Under gray skirt,

Skin flaking off onto wool

Layers dripping downward

Or falling off

I look at you and I see a terrifying future:

A life wilted away on the potter's wheel

Only to be transferred for display


We are gathered from the same dirt

Just molded in different waters


Still, I look upon the girth 

Of my soft haired stomach

And the think of the cavern you have dug in yours

And I think at least you shakily clawed it yourself


Josie Levin is a visual artist and poet. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago, reads large volumes of books and occasionally writes her own. She has also been published in the Daily Herald and Circus Literary Magazine.

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