What Our Siddur Has Drunk

I.
This is the siddur most often
left out on the table
after havdalah,
even in the sukkah,
open
to drink rain
filtered through
the bamboo s’chach,
drink of the earth
like thirsty roots
of a mango tree
until someone remembers
and gets soaked retrieving it,
this blue book
seemingly impervious
to the will of nature
now swaddled, saved,
swollen and heavy, survivor
newly blotched with wine
or grape juice or beer
and washed in storm.

Pages stained
the color of the flesh
of Bubbies & Zeydies tanning
themselves year-round
on Miami Beach
in the 70s & 80s —
their chutzpah, and
beaded jewelry,
coded numbers on forearms
and horned rims and white socks
and white jackets with
wide lapels, pages leathery,
supple and sticky,
pliant and resilient,
ripped, tricked,
creased and folded,
all the bold letters
and verses only as clear as
the voices that read them.

Painted and glued with the stuff
of our family, the table, the kitchen:
moscato or cabernet or merlot,
blended or single malt,
Cigar City or Due South IPAs,
Guinness or Corona,
cholent or sopa,
cafecito or salcita,
Cholula or Sriracha,
guacamole or hummus or techina.

What’s more, lemon or lime,
meat sauce or marinara,
olive oil or honey,
and sometimes sunshine
bathed in ocean breezes
sprinkled in morning dew,
salt, and kisses.

Next time, will it be iced tea
or lemonade, soy sauce
or teriyaki marinade?

II.
Hakafos soaked in tears and l’chaims.

Pages thick with candle wax
and the succor
of promise and order,
calling and vision
and a love supreme.

Pages torn in the thoughtless
haste of rote
or in self-indulgent anger
now
taped back together with aging,
and with the acceptance
of the beauty of scars.

Secrets and lies,
pettiness and fights,
challenges met
and overcome,
and mystery for miles.

Every truth falls unbidden
onto the pages we breathe on
and leave of ourselves.

This is the siddur we’ve used
and lent and kissed and cradled.

This is the siddur that has heard
even those things we have not spoken.

Our siddur has drunk us
even as we drink from it.

Hashem, may the words we recite
from these pages
reflect our struggle
to keep what we can
in our cups and share
and receive blessings,
always knowing we’re
going to spill
and for better or worse

make our mark.

 

 

Photo by Chloe Karpel.