Art and Birth | Jo Milgrom

Eduardo Chillida’s Cupped Hand 1924-2002
a different Havdalah?

he often drew his own hands.
he wrote the hand springs out of the body.
the hand is where the human body and space meet
slightly opening the hand unfastens a piece of space around it
and when the fingers close again slowly
the “being” of this piece of space changes
hidden within the fist
space is the nucleus  it gives life and volume from the inside

I set the framed print of Chillida’s cupped hand
next to my Havdalah things
maybe  this Basque artist is descended from marranos.
he might not even know why or when to cup his hand,
this very specific mysterious gesture.

I never really understood the gesture
cupping your hand so your fingernails reflect
the light of those two flames.
is it the flame is it the reflection?
lamely I thought the flickering fingers
are agitating   for the   work-a-day week.

maybe Chillida’s cupped hand
protects Shabbat space
now   it will open to free it   like a bird
till those two little flames   once again
free the cup of   Shabbat space.
11 November 2014

Cupped Hand
©Eduardo Chillida
from Jo Milgrom’s collection

Va Yoled… Va Yehi
(Begetting and Birthing)

Some time ago I had an experience with someone’s baby…a random occasion when innocent
physical contact strikes harmonics      old music long dormant awakens      even prefiguring events
to come.
Little feet pushed against my ribs and belly
Little hands pulled my beads and sucking amber
set up quivers in my guts.
the next one drooling smelling sweet or faintly urine
may not be my neighbor’s but my daughter’s

Bittersweet the feeling and recall
Of others that pushed and climbed my thighs
And drew long gulping draughts
Curling perfect fingers and eyelashes

Four generations of daughters each opening the womb
Jo         born to Ruth         August Berman, 1928    Worcester, Mass
Shira born to Jo         Berman Milgrom, 1951    Newark, NJ
Talia born to Shira         Milgrom, 1976     Los Angeles
Oren born to Talia         Milgrom Elcott, 2009    New York City

I began to take it          personal     the biblical genealogies
The ubiquitous wearisome begats
The hoary unpronounceable names
And the rhythmic staccato
Va yoled… va yehi
He begat     and he     lived
Va yoled… va yehi
They are all masculine         only the men do it?

How about
Va tahar… va teled
She got pregnant
She gave birth
Va tahar    va teled
How does that feel
How does that sound
Equal pay for equal labor         only the women do it

©2022 Jo Milgrom
All rights reserved

Untitled watercolor
©2022 Miroslava Panayotova

Jo Milgrom…

…is an artist and poet living in Jerusalem.


Be inspired… Be creative… Be peace… Be

Kindly phrased comments welcome here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.