- Michal (Mitak) Mahgerefteh
What's Left Behind
introduction, reviews, poems
Introduction by the Author
Mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only forty-one years old. For over twenty-five years, Father supported and cared for Mother throughout her treatments and surgeries, sometimes with anger and frustration, until her passing in 2010. As her health deteriorated over the years, “he was there / in years of silent layers.” Toward the end of her life, Father often showed weariness, being emotionally and physically exhausted, as he himself was diagnosed with cancer and diabetes. But for him, “there was no one to take the pain away.” In this collection, I reflect on Mother’s last days and give Father’s poignant struggle a voice.
Michal Mahgerefteh's second edition of What's Left Behind is a further attempt to deal with the grief of losing her mother. The grieving process grew more intense with every conversation she had with her father, who supported and cared for her mother for twenty-five years. The affects of this spirit-challenging period seep through every poem: "For twenty-five years Mother’s lips/ kneaded words with a pinch of salt./ Her beautiful green eyes, now colorless." In A Sign of Grief the reader follows the emotional, spiritual, and physical turmoil of both the poet and her father during the time from birth to deathbed, and all that transpired in the intervening time. The burden is unbearable and in the end the poet resorts, reluctantly, to “all I want is to flee from your dark days/ that sealed My Book of Life/ until the hurt no longer/ bears your name”(No More Hurt). Michal Mahgerefteh’s new edition is replete with remarkable sincerity, profound sensitivity, and unconditional love. Its universal message will touch every soul.
Dr. Dina Ripsman Eylon
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal
This book is a beautiful work of poetry. Each poem, although all revolving around the death of the author's mother after 25 years of battling cancer, is a stand-alone piece. Together, however, they almost seem like one long poem broken up by different moments in time. I found each poem to be wonderfully written, and able to pull on my emotions. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a reason to start reading poetry, or to anyone who just enjoys reading well-written poetry.
I won this collection of poems from a free giveaway at Goodreads.com and grew somewhat anxious waiting for it to arrive. The subject matter of the book hits fairly close to home for me. Whereas the author lost her mother while witnessing her father's struggle, my family went through a similar situation with the passing of my brother. So in a way, I was excited to read these poems and at the same time, I was dreading it.
There is an intense level of raw emotion within the lines of each poem. Thoug I won this collection of poems from a free giveaway at Goodreads.com and grew somewhat anxious waiting for it to arrive. The subject matter of the book hits fairly close to home for me. Whereas the author lost her mother while witnessing her father's struggle, my family went through a similar situation with the passing of my brother. So in a way, I was excited to read these poems and at the same time, I was dreading it.
There is an intense level of raw emotion within the lines of each poem. Though they vary in length, the power is still apparent to the reader. With honesty and real emotion, the author allows us, the readers, a glimpse into her grieving process without a thought to whether we find it messy or painful. It's an interesting blend of honoring her mother's memory and dealing with the stray threads of life that remain for her father and the author herself.
I was quite taken with a few of the poems. They mirrored the emotions that I felt when watching my brother slip from this world into the next. In Things She Left Behind, the words paint the images vividly and without closing my eyes, I could picture the items that my parents packed to take home. Each item symbolizing something precious and sacred in an everyday kind of way to my brother as the items in the poem were to the author's mother. My heart grew heavy as I read By Her Resting Place. Everything I felt at my brother's graveside was summed up in these few lines.
This collection of poems has the ability to reach into the reader and touch their soul with the longing and love carried by their words. Since nearly everyone experiences the loss of a loved one at some point in their lives, they will be able to feel the author's words, not just read them. I truly loved these poems. They say the things that we sometimes cannot. If you're looking for a deeply meaningful and loving collection, I would buy this in a heartbeat.
I received this book through Goodreads First Reads Giveaway
Such a beautiful and hauntingly sad book of poetry. I felt such empathy for this family. The writing was good and left me feeling lucky to not have been touched by so much suffering. My only complaint , if you can even call it that, was that I am a christian and not very knowledgeable on the subject of the Jewish religion and culture. This book is peppered with language from that religion. There is a small glossary of terms at the end and that helped.
I would recommend this book not just to poetry lovers but to anyone who has lost someone who meant the world to them.
I received this book through GoodReads' First Reads
This concise book was able to tell an implacably poignant and heartwrenching story that is likely to hit very close to home for many readers. Mahgerefteh’s poems relate to all of the emotion pinnacles of death and dying including hope, desperation, aching, anticipation, despondency, reminiscence, and perseverance. Each poem feels so personal and heartfelt that you cannot help but be drawn into the author’s world. I’m very glad I had the chance to read this and have already promised to loan it to a friend!
A stunningly, sorrowful collection of deep emotion tied to complex relationships. The author illuminates her own life's journey to the point of her mother's death with a poignancy and beauty in the ugliest of circumstances. It holds you to the last word and dares you to savor it as you read it, again. Truly lovely.
I got this in a giveaway here on GoodReads. I loved every word of it. I felt the pain, but it also helped me to release some of the pain I have pent up since my grandmother died of cancer when I was about 14 years old. It was a quick read, but worth every second.
I really enjoyed the poetry in this book. To be able to write so honest and being able to relate to it was amazing. Would highly recommend.
At That Critical Moment
I kiss Mother on her forehead.
With a fainthearted hope I fondle
her hair . . . releasing inner calm.
The end of life draws near. Birth
to death, like the hours before
dawn...darkness dissolves into
shades of indigo, mauve, lavender,
finally to brilliant gold as sunrise.
No tears but exalted bon voyage
she lies on a single bed
no waking ray
or soothing song permitted
throwing bony arms to hold me close
her hands and cheeks with hope
but the letters
on her chart brandish thorns
the shechinah is visible
pollen in the wilderness
*Published in The Poetry Society of Virginia, 80th Anniversary Anthology
Father spirit at low ebb moves with agitation
stares through the narrow kitchen window quiet
moon's shadow stretches the edge of fronds days
rolled in coal loneliness forgiveness in its glow
startled by the kettle's whistle he turns to memories
fallen limbs bent tied tucked in tachrichim covered
in thick black plastic lowered to muddy pit enclosed
by ashen concrete blocks in Avenue of Stars 13:1
maybe this is a dream he thinks or maybe he just
cant hear the sound of scissors cutting through fabric
a broken voice lets out a cry glances at the Zinger
sewing machine resting rusting in her absence
people, they offer no comfort Father rubs his eyes
at the protectors of the evil eye hung above doors
wonders why the porcelain garlic, plastic jalapeños
metal horseshoe, and hamsa charms failed to heal
cruel false hope lashes at the flow of time he knows
her neshama stripped of skin and bones crossed
The Gate to converse with Shechinah in The Garden
*Finalist in the 2011 Bethesda Writing Competition