Hi all! I wrote a poem that I think some of you guys might appreciate. I post to poetry forums frequently but I would love feedback here. Just an amateur. TW for SA though, I cover some sensitive topics.
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b-mitzvotav, v-tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.
It is a cold winter night with thick gentle snow, and my friend quietly sings the blessings for us both as I light the hannukiyah.
The warmth I feel is enough to take the edge off the snowstorm outside, but not quite enough to take the edge off the prying eyes looking on.
“It’s not safe to light those indoors, shouldn’t you be outside? I should have you reported for this.”
We had checked: the protocol was to light outside whenever possible. In a snowstorm, it was not possible.
That night, I mutter Sorry instead of amen.
blessed are you, our god, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy through your commandments, and commands us to light the hanukkah lights.
oh, is that how you wanted me to explain it?
plenty of people want things from me these days. strangers, barely acquaintances, ask me to take off my blouse to see my sky-blue bra through my semitransparent undershirt.
“it’s 90 degrees; you’re hot”, they say. “yeah”, i say. Sorry.
i don’t, but the next day my sleeves are 3 inches shorter. my mom thanks me for not dressing like a prude today.
baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-asah nisim la-avoteinu v-imoteinu ba- yamim ha-heim ba-z’man ha-zeh.
[blessed are you, adonai our god, sovereign of all, who performed miracles for our ancestors in days of old at this season.]
i could use a miracle now. the God-roaring, fire-blazing, earth-shattering, logic-blowing-apart, hebrew bible kind.
but God and i were both silent as my fist was unclenched and my pliant hand was molded around His shaft. He has to notice, right? when my hand fell away, limp, in protest, He would pick it back up and place it back.
Sorry. oh God, i’m Sorry. I want to wash my hands. Or maybe take a nice bath. Vayikra 15:18 agrees. Or maybe drown.
I want to be strong like my ancestors. I don’t think they worshipped Sorry.
I didn’t know my great grandparents, but I learned that in Berlin, Germany on 10 Tishrei 1938 they heard the words:
“Our history is the history of the grandeur of the human soul and the dignity of human life. In this day of sorrow and pain, surrounded by infamy and shame, we will turn our eyes to the days of old.
From generation to generation God has redeemed our fathers, and He will redeem us and our children in the days to come.
We stand before God … we bow to him, and we stand upright … before man.”
That last part, that’s the miracle, I think.
And so somehow, next year, I know I will be there to say,
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu v-ki’y’manu v-higianu la-z’man ha-zeh.