In 2014, my 24-year-old son was rushed to the hospital with a 104oF fever, persistent body aches, and shortness of breath. He spent five days in the hospital, undergoing an array of tests. On the fifth day, the doctors informed us not only that they didn’t know what ailed him, but also that he, my son, would pass away within the next twenty-four hours, undiagnosed and untreated. We were advised to contact our rabbi at the local synagogue and make funeral arrangements. We were devastated but refused to give up hope.
On the sixth day, a specialist from John Hopkins took over my son’s care. He was able to diagnose him with Staph/MRSA, a blood infection, as well as pneumonia/sepsis in his lungs. The battle to save his life began; it would last one and half months. Seven years later, thankfully, my son is still with us.
The condition my son suffered is so rare that it is not recorded in most medical books; it baffled and defeated twenty-two specialists. Ultimately, he was saved through an experimental treatment for cancer and rare infections known as T-Cell Immunotherapy. It is a name worth remembering.
"The Rising Song" is truly one of the best chapbooks I've read in ages. Learning about the challenges your dear son endured brought tears to my eyes. The well-crafted poems are concise, musical, and deeply moving."
Author of River Country: A Poem-Play
"It's emotional, thoughtful, reflective, and somber. A hopeful story of agony and pain, intertwined with dread of the pain and possibility of losing a loved one. Eventually, it is a victorious and triumphant tone that emerges as death and its dread are conquered."
Bob Mwangi, Nairobi, Kenya
Member of Voices Global Group
"You really touch the reader with your angst, anger, alternating hope and despair. Anyone who has sat at a sickbed can identify with this, and if they have not, you give them an honest dose of what it feels like. I like the fact that your poems are all brief. Your imagery and emotion is stronger on its brevity. Powerful, powerful stuff."
“Anyone who reads this book of poetry will find themselves in the hospital room with this poet and her son. It is impossible not to connect with the spirit that moves through this collection. The poet takes us with her in simple anguished language of a mother who just wants her son to live. It is a marvelously rich book of poems that you will want to go back to again, and again. Mahgerefteh has the ability to hold her reader as close as the prayers she is praying for her son. You will find yourself a part of her heart when you read this work, and you will not be disappointed.”
Nancy Powell, Z"L
Former President of The Poetry Society of Virginia
Author of How Far is Ordinary and The Blackbirds Tell Stories
“Should children pass before their parents or elders do... it seems that the natural order of the universe is unjustly broken. No one wants to be brought to such an extremity, such as the speaker in these poems. Distraught at the possibility of a son’s premature passing, she turns to language and is not turned away. Poetry, like love, comes to quicken her hope and steal her heart. In The Rising Song, Michal Magherefteh offers unabashed lyrics, and gives thanks that the Beloved is “still here.”
Luisa A. Igloria
2020-2022 Poet Laureate of Virginia
Author of Maps for Migrants and Ghosts and
The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis
The collection will be available
in print and PDF file, February 2022
Passing Through the Cemetery
Exhausted from the long stay at the ER,
I walk away, angry at the ten specialists
and their failure to find the cause for his
sudden illness, stop by Starbucks
on Colley, buy a Carmel Frappe and two
almond snacks for the late-night drive
around town; consider the uncertainty,
the risk of premature passing, how his
young-life might turn into a memory.
I end on Princess Anne Road and park
by the partially open gate; massive black
poles with rusty Stars of David mounted
on two stone columns, safeguarding
the living from the dead, expansive rows
of marble stones, sharp foliage poking
through crevices on headstones. The cold
oppresses my bones. I crouch by mounds
of cool earth, a tide of fury rising within;
push my hands with hesitation into the damp
earth, feel her richness tingling through my skin,
roll my head from one shoulder to the other,
rocking my body side to side weep freely,
seize eternity, Shepherd of the Forest,
please receive him, our son, with dignity.
Can you hear the sound of ushering
trumpets resonating off the walls;
a host of angel choirs baring the road
to light? In His palm, your mounting ache
rests on a vast thickness of petals floating
on nectar; depleted veins stiffened lungs,
you breathe droplets of aged wine; your
disabled limbs harden as oak. O’ Dear God,
must you be so beautiful and alluring to his soul?
Praying in Repetitions
My hands ache from the grip of endless praying,
intent broadens into mighty persuasion against
God’s will. I close my eyes; listen, the Sound of Harps
ever closer as his final chord fades, nearly devoid of life.
My insistent begging bears the creak of winter’s
stiffness, unwanted pattern impairing judgment.
I release tension into the silent pulsation in small
breaths, on my knees with a thud, repeat my begging.
“Praying with Ms. Williams”
The Jewish Journal
“Relentless Prayers Invoking God”
Voices Israel Group of Poets
“Passing Through the Cemetery”