Adonai assigns each Jew a rabbi or tzadik
because you can’t eat yeshiva or angel’s wings,
Even the holy need parnassa, and a job is a job, after all.

But we still were hiding
so my great grandmother, a woman, a bird at the end of flight,
was my first rabbi, my first tzadik.
Us two, with eight more in Gan Eden.
No one else allowed, no one knowing.
Because the neighbors already looked at us with sharpened eyes,
sharp as the knife she killed chickens with for Fridays.
The two of us, the ten of us,
burned that bread, lit those lights
and sang down the slipping night
and Shekinah’s stars.

I am her patchwork Jew,
offering poor wages
to those rabbis close now.
No drush is as sweet as the honey from her table.

Lisa Alvarado is a poet, performer, and installation artist, focusing on identity, spirit, and the body. She is the founder of La Onda Negra Press, and is author of Reclamo and The Housekeeper’s Diary, originally a book of poetry and now a one-woman performance, and is the recipient of grants from the Department of Cultural Affairs, The NEA, and the Ragdale Foundation. Lisa has also completed an ambitious trilogy of performance pieces, REM/Memory, Bury The Bones and Resurgam, whose themes are the culture of violence, popular culture and personal redemption.

Her first novel, Sister Chicas (written with Ann Hagman Cardinal and Jane Alberdeston) was bought by Penguin/NAL, and released in April 2006. Sister Chicas is a coming of age story concerning the lives of three young Latinas living in Chicago. Sister Chicas won 2nd place Best First Novel in English (Latino Literacy Now/2007) Her book of poetry, Raw Silk Suture, is the newest release by Floricanto Press, and was reviewed by Rigoberto Gonzalez.

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