In The Time Of Our Sorrow

My tongue wants to un-gate the flood, it is
An urgent compulsion to spill knotted guts,

In these weeks of banned melody,
My lips wants to rebel,
To howl,
To sing

Of my suffering,
Of all my shortcomings,
Every rejection,
Every threat to our collective existence,
The abandonment unabated,

Of how my heart is a bitter almond,
Spilling with cyanide,
Splitting its endocarp,
Longing only for the orchard,

Of how my heart is a heavy stone,
Sallow and sinking in my chest,
How a glut of shrapnel is stuck in my throat,

Of how I am blindfolded in love’s minefield,
Frozen, unable to navigate the danger
Lurking beneath the surface,
Hurtful blossoms
Lying in night-wait
Only to explode,
Detonate the light of day,

Of the world’s unending
Re-dedication to the re-destruction
Of temples.

My heart wants to take flight,
Transcend the gravity
Of this misbegotten planet.

Before the unkindness of ravens and
Murder of crows can escape the open moan,

I am circle-dancing,
Hand in hand with so many wondrous
Warrior women,
With Magda and Miriam,
Who came through the dark tunnel of the Shoah,
Who are here with me,
Present and spilling light.

This is beyond awe,
Beyond gratitude.

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We weave a grapevine
Up the trunk of the almond tree,

We are strengthened by our suffering.
We are indestructible.

This world crushes us,
We refuse to turn poisonous,
Dancing and rooting and branching
Despite this.

In glorious defiance,
We pour ourselves forward
In honeyed amaretto flooding,

We sweeten the darkness,
Light the bitterness.

We kasher every unholy implement
Used against us.
We ready them for service
In the holy temple of our most
Miraculous dance:

Our continued existence.


Photo: Almond Trees by Rahel Jaskow


With many thanks to Rabbi Reuven Wolf of Maayon Yisroel for his teaching on Parshat Matos.