THIS IS HOW WE MOURN

This is how we mourn:
we don’t berate the clouds for gathering,
nor begrudge the rain’s ultimate descent.
Our tears fall to the earth as well,
and there are moments when we need the gray,
moments when the sun would
be an unwelcomed interloper.
This is how we mourn:
we wipe the walls clean of history,
we whitewash them for they, too,
must be a tachrichim* and when done
we add the names, each lettered carefully,
this a plaster scroll
of those we dare not forget
requiring the perfection
they were denied.
This is how we mourn:
by walking out into the sunfilled sky,
having given them the grave
once denied them
freshly dug into
our souls and memory.


*tachrichim is the traditional white linen Jewish burial shroud.

Written following a visit to the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, where  the 80,000 names of Czech and Moravian Jews who perished under the Nazis were hand-written on the walls of the synagogue.

CROW DANCE

Sunday

They gather in the trees
remarkably silent
one speaks
their morning prayers
and they
return home.

Monday

Only three arrive
to commentate
our morning walk.
We appreciate
the silence.

Tuesday

There is a reason
for all
sentient creatures
but the crow
tests our credulity.

Wednesday

A wintered branch
breaks
under the weight
of the blackness.
There is much
gnashing of wing.

Thursday

A single bird
seems pitiable
and lonley
but we lack
avian compassion.

Friday

The usual
morning cacaphony
but why are they
so happy
it is Friday?

Saturday

Would that they
were ravens
and would heed
my entreaty
Nevermore!

CREATION

God created man in God’s image
much as man created God in his.
If there were no God, there
could be no man, and yet,
if there were no man,
there would be no God.
Perhaps Aristotle had it right
but certainly easier, noting
that bird and egg must
have always existed, and so
for that moment, Aristotle
without knowing it,
created both man and God.

SHE SAID

She said that we are little more than clay
to be molded by God and carved by fate
and we count on nothing more than this day.

It’s but a week since she has slipped away,
we expect our sense of loss to abate.
She said that we were little more than clay,

just so much time, no matter how we pray
and when it’s done, there can be no debate
and we count on nothing more than this day.

We clung to her, begged God to let her stay,
she laughed with us, then entered through the gate.
She said that we are little more than clay,

that she didn’t fear heaven’s great array,
it was her time, neither early nor late,
and we count on nothing more than this day.

We still can hear her laugh, can hear her say
Sing! Dance for me! Life comes with no rebate.
She said that we are little more than clay
and we count on nothing more than this day.

AWAITING THE WAVES

“Describe yourself,” she said
“that I might capture you
if only for this moment
a footprint left once you
have departed this place and time.”
I am, I should think,
biologically plausible
though straining the bounds
of reason once and again.
I tend to philosophic androgyny
hovering on the fulcrum of paradox.
I am the cynic, hurling
great brick bats at God,
relying on her forgiving nature.
I am the imprisoned child
who can see through
unclouded, smiling eyes
beauties and joys just beyond reach.
This is the impression my foot
will leave, until the first wave
erases it from memory.

THE MESSENGER TIRES

He says, in a quiet aside he hopes
no one will overhear, that he
has grown tired of being an angel.
And not for the reason we might think,
he adds with a wry smile.
The work is not all that difficult,
in fact there seems to be less of it
week by week, but he has grown patient.
The real problem is sleeping,
there’s too much time for it now,
but have you ever tried sleeping
with a set of wings on your back,
talk about shoulder pain, and don’t
think of rolling over, that
is always a bumpy ride to the floor.
I tried being birdlike, of course,
but even the saints had to laugh
as I kept falling out of the trees.