“I’m the kind of woman who questions what is easy. At night with crystal and
table, I beg ghosts out of dead revolutions to come to me, to talk sense.”
from “Ethel Rosenberg, A Sestina”
I sit down in my cold winter room to write about Enid Dame. I’d like to
flatter myself. I’d like to think that like Enid I’m the kind of woman who
questions what’s easy, yet I own an electric knife to cut my bread, a
Cuisinart, and a magic phone that tells me who is calling before I pick the
receiver up. It’s a great honor to write about Enid whose mind was sharp as
an electric knife, as versatile as a Cuisinart, as mysterious and wondrous
as a magic phone.
A deeply important but never self-important poet, Enid was a radical thinker
way ahead of Solomon’s curve and, also, a truth-singing free bird and a
handmaiden of mirth.
Enid would often visit the ancient biblical figures, and bring them
breathing, vibrant, into modern life.
Lilith, I don’t cut my grass
as you never cut your hair
I picture you in my backyard
where it’s always cool and ferny,
where jewelweeds grow taller than trees,
where wild berries tangle
like knots in cats’ fur
I see you sorting out the birds from the cats:
two of your favorite animals.
Contradictions never scared you.
from “Lilith, I Don’t Cut My Grass”
Enid was not afraid of contradictions either. She wrote about being a
thinking woman and being a Jew embracing a religion that does not celebrate
woman as thinker.
I hurled words like stones
at the brick- closed wall of faces,
I threw back my hair and shouted at God,
who never seemed more like a brother.
from “Miriam’s Seders”
She found the courage to create her own God:
... and my God would have no country, my god would
need no armies,
and any promise would be negotiable.
from “Jephthah’s Daughter”
Enid was able to take the ancient past, near past, present, and future and
weave them into poems that describe for us the ecstatic, vegetable struggles
of mortal life.
Enid published seven books of poetry, the most recent one Stone Shekina,
from which all but the first of the poems quoted above are taken. With her
husband, the poet Donald Lev, she edited the tabloid, Home Planet News.
Enid left us a legacy of superb poems, but her being, her radiant grace as
she moved among us will be sorely missed.
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