Natania Rosenfeld’s moving new collection The Blue Bed pulls the reader into the ache-filled curiosity of a shy, restless child who has endured a lifetime of asking her parents questions they have never answered—a child who struggles, even now as an adult, to know herself in the dark void of withheld family histories and unraveling woe. “Late light points / the wrong way,” and the speaker must confess, “Like the blind king / I saw but didn’t see. / Felt, but knew not.” Yet Rosenfeld beautifully renders these poems with the radiant power of sight and feeling, of love and care, for others and for herself—and, in doing so, guides us all toward a healing sense of rest shaped by compassion and acceptance.
Faisal Mohyuddin, author of The Displaced Children of Displaced Children
Below the unadorned surface of Natania Rosenfeld’s poetry, there swim archetypal or (as one title puts it) aboriginal elements which manifest in dreams and in dreamlike vignettes of private lives and of the public traumas of history. In their use of color to convey the ineffable, the poems in “The Blue Bed” are at once abstract and painterly: “A pink petal stuck/to her skirt//now it’s on the floor.” Impatient with the superficial, unafraid of lamentation, this is a charged and unforgettable book.
“How odd it is / that my light should come / from names of the dead / beneath my feet,” writes Natania Rosenfeld in The Blue Bed. Whether walking the layered streets of Berlin, or traversing the intimate domestic landscape, this collection beautifully illustrates a world in which "Telling buried stories" is not only an urgent, lyrical imperative—it's the only way to survive. Rosenfeld's vivid, enigmatic, clear-eyed poems navigate the buried stories that surround us, weaving together cultural trauma, the complex bonds of family, and the everyday spaces in which we become one with our beloveds. In this realm, the past is the present, dreams interpret waking life, and in the end, we find the truth of surrender: “You must let the wave / take you away.”
Alicia Jo Rabins
Natania Rosenfeld is a writer, independent scholar and Professor Emerita of English at Knox College. This is her second book of poetry, after Wild Domestic (Sheep Meadow Press 2015). She has published a critical book, Outsiders Together: Virginia and Leonard Woolf as well as an e-chapbook, She and I (Essay Press). Her essays, poems and fiction have appeared in journals including AGNI, The Yale Review, APR, Raritan, Gettysburg Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Southwest Review, and four essays have been listed as “Notable” in Best American Essays collections. She was recently named one of 30 “Writers to Watch” by the Guild Literary Complex in Chicago, where she has lived since 2018.