Day of Atonement, Keystone

By Sophie Panzer

Day of Atonement

Image © GrzegorzRogala (

Image © Grzegorz Rogala (

In synagogue, the rabbi preached
Take care of others,
and do not neglect your own flesh.
When I told myself that deprivation
was just a different kind of caring,
I believed.
On this holiest of holy days,
I lie naked on my bed,
kneading a fistful of my belly
up towards my breasts,
wondering who I need to forgive or be forgiven by
for wanting hollows beneath my ribs
and space between my thighs,
for my unnecessary familiarity
with hunger’s curving blade.
If today starvation means awareness,
then I am among the wise.
I fast today, I will fast tomorrow
because I cannot rely on faith.
Because strength, beauty, love
must all be tested, proven
if they are to exist at all.


My name is Cathy, she said when we first met
her sky-through-glass gaze connecting with the earth of my own.
She stood taller than most, though she was shorter than I
forever growing; even when she stood completely still
her body seemed to reach upward.

Short for Catherine? I asked,
and now I can’t remember why
but I suppose I was meant to hear her answer.

No, for Cathedral, she corrected me.
Because they had all fallen and crumbled when I was born
and my parents
were architects of sorts
trying to rebuild a broken world
reduced to dust and rubble.
They made me from the chipped bricks and broken glass
left over from world’s end
and built me upward.
Mine are the spires of everlasting ambition
I am the songs of undying dreams.

She told me she had never seen her namesakes
but she was going to rebuild them
to hold the new world in their broken-glass ceilings.

SophiePanzerSophie Panzer is a high school senior living in South Orange, New Jersey. She is the co-Editor-in-Chief of Guildscript, her school’s art and literary magazine, and the winner of a national silver medal for journalism from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She attended the 2014 Kenyon Review Workshop and her work has appeared in Teen Ink. When she is not doing anything related to school or writing she is hiking, cooking, tutoring, and pretending that she is better at yoga than she actually is.

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