23 November 2010

We Knew Each Other Once

Until today

I’ve never worn a costume

on Yom Kippur.

In white,

like the debauched bride

most are

on their wedding days,

who blush when

great aunts speak of babies

as though they don’t already have


Sitting in my car

south and east

of the temple

small ‘t’

drinking the soy latte in a paper cup I

bought this morning after I

foundation-covered the zits that

stood out more on my face after I

straightened the hair I’d just

blown dry after I

washed it in the first

shower I’ve


on Yom Kippur

in at least 18 years.

I didn’t blush then, either.

My first time.

Too young to vote,

I drove myself innocently to a shul on

Rosh HaShanah.

Reveled in the letters I couldn’t read,

picked up melodies like memories.

I can still hear the sound of

that shofar,

picture the face of

the man

who blew it.

I didn’t wear white for Yom Kippur that year.

I didn’t know my soul would be wrapped in white

at my death.

I did teach myself about fasting from






‘marital relations’

which at sevemteen I rightly assumed meant sex,

married or not,

as two or as one,


I fasted.

Kol Nidre means

all vows, but

You void them before we make them,

Who are You letting off easy?

This year, I pass.

Really, I don’t mind skipping my turn.

No making, no keeping.

Whether you keep Yours depends greatly on



a drenched sun keeps rising over Pakistan

and setting over Haitians the earth hasn’t entirely swallowed whole.

The sky rains freshwater into dusty refugee camp buckets,

and the wind blows cool through hair matted to the

charred heads of burned down villages.

But the righteous never go hungry.

Those were Your words.

I’m giving them back to You.

Hineini, Adonai,

in my canvas shoes

and my white


sitting in my car drinking coffee.

I make feline eye contact before I turn my face from You.

Late for breakfast,



as I watch you with my peripheral vision,

my cup pauses in its path.

You had words enough to


the entire Torah.

Why do You have no words for me.

You named us lovers, and

bid we sing of each other,

to each other,

in a garden.

Partners in Creation,

Apparently nothing but scripted adolescent proclamations on the

thrust of a high school stage.

This act is improve.

Adonai, s’fatai Tiftach,

To whom do You pray

when Your lips are stiff,


and the words You want to speak cannot get past them?

It’s hard to believe, but

I’m still making space for You,

under the chuppah.

Gripping a limb of a cypress tree

in each hand,

You could show up bride or groom.

In Your absence I’ve played both parts,

and You being either would find me relieved.

Behind lidded eyes I,

sip my coffee.

It’s just me in here,

under an open sky,

wrapped in something dark, because,

I can remember Your breath

on my face, and I’m

not ashamed for people to know

we knew each other


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