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Saturday Morning Poem

Fall 1985, New York City.
An Upper West Side apartment.
The Food and Justice Committee
gathers for a potluck
planning our next action –
buzzing, earnest.
A woman swoops
into the room,
places a large bowl of grapes
in the middle of the table.
Conversation stops.
We awkwardly eye the offending fruit,
glance sideways at each other.

January 20, 2009, Washington, DC.
The Mall.
Eight days ago my father died.
I stand in the crush of millions,
joyous, reverent, crying.
Aching with cold,
aching for audacity.
A poet preaches.
An oath is taken.
History –
and I am here.

July 2015, Asheville NC.
My kitchen.
I shell peas.
The washing machine whirs.
The coffee grows cold.
The voice of that poet
sings to me from my computer,
her own words – and Audre’s and Adrienne’s and Gwendolyn’s
and tears stream.
Sings praise to farm workers and women in kitchens
and I shell peas
and remember.
“What if the mightiest word is love?”*

*From “Praise Song for the Day,” the poem written and recited by Elizabeth Alexander on the occasion of the Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama.

My poem, written quickly – too particular, too many allusions for general consumption – but nonetheless I share it. Maybe one day I’ll even edit it.

All the Mitzvot

I first began to blog after reading an article by a woman who called herself The Velveteen RabbiAt the time she was a poet beginning her rabbinic studies. I read the article in Bitch Magazine (of all places). I’ve followed her through the years as she became a Real Rabbi and now a national leader of the Jewish Renewal movement. This morning I share one of her poems. (The poem stands alone, but for her beautiful explanation, click through to the link.) I will be meditating on these words today:

only thing I know is, the universe
is expanding and my heart with it. …

All the mitzvot
add up to this: every sinew in the body and
every day of the year, hear the command
to love.

Day 7 of the Omer by Rachel Barenblat

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