Madeleine Chill

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Our Sunday showcase this week is writer and translator Madeleine Chill, whose striking poetic voice pushes readers from the edge of experience into the surreal. Read her poems slowly, carefully, and let yourself sink all the way in.

Madeleine Chill is a translator and writer who lives in central Israel. She is currently completing her MA in English Literature and Literary Translation at Bar-Ilan University, where her thesis focuses on translating Puerto Rican narratives of the Spanish-American War. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Connecticut with a BA in Spanish. Her work has previously been published in Narrative Magazine and Caesura.


 – Madeline Chill

               . . . the inner word you want, that fugitive, unfaithful

               word wed now to silence. 

               —Margaret Gibson, “Forgetting”


Every night I come to see

if the orchid blossom’s opened.


Night when I don’t

or can’t move any farther;


or when what by day I measure

in space as movement


becomes by night

more measurable in stillness;


or when what by day I measure forward

must by night be measured


back.  Tonight my body says

you’re just beyond the wall.


I search and search for the chink

though I’ve heard the old story:


the lion, the mulberry tree.

Remember, in June:


               I point to a tree, saying

               these are mulberries.

               You tug a branch close for me;

               unripe pink nubs

               cascade over your hair. . .


Tonight the orchid’s unfurled

just one petal.


Backward through my body comes

the story, less story now


than mourning song.

I sing it,


ripe as blood,

certainly torn apart.