Tuesday, April 30, 2013

36 toward the Omer

I told you about how things have been scary for me with religion this year because what people tell me I shouldn’t be able to know about God undermines the foundation of my knowledge of God

we were both waiting for phone calls while walking along Amsterdam and my voice kept rising in pitch and volume but then I came to the end of it as we waited for a traffic light

and I knew and said I know God is here right now and repeated it again and as we got to the other side of the street you said hodu laShem ki tov ki leolam chasdo

we kept walking as I agreed hodu lAdonai ki tov ki leolam chasdo using God’s name because it was a true praise what a kindness to have a moment of settled knowing what a deep breath

35 toward the Omer

Malkhut shebHod

In the Chabad synagogue in Moscow on Tisha b’Av in 2009 a group of Israeli children played games on the landing and one small girl with light hair started twirling and I took a picture

that kept her in my mind paused midspin with a soft blond halo around her luminous face, a beautiful girl child with Hebrew as her mamaloshn turning slow and free until my camera stopped her

the memory card she’s on is still in Russia because I didn’t search for it well enough before getting in the car for the airport and the apartment I subletted belongs to a new person

which is as it should be really since once she noticed me she said no to my photography and I have my ethics but gosh what a knowing little serene one what a breathholding moment

34 toward the Omer

Find that little root connecting you with the spreading branches and then you’ll raise your eyes and see that your waving fingers look a little like the fuzzballed antennae on top of strange birds

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lag BaOmer

After praying this morning I looked at the dirt path that headed in a direction I had not yet walked and decided not to head that way and was comfortable with that decision

unlike when you leaned forward to kiss me and I turned my head and then always wondered why and what would have happened had I chosen the path I had thought I'd wanted

yes, my decision this morning was good although there’s no real comparison because I really wanted to kiss you and not all desires are equal and neither are feelings about roads not taken

Sunday, April 28, 2013

32 toward the Omer

I feel ashamed of myself when I wonder whether it is the moments when I feel God or the moments when I don’t feel God that indicate the actual truth about God

once when I came back from a time of doubt of God I knew that I had failed. I had been given the opportunity to have faith and did not have faith

and I knew that the opportunity to have faith was now lost to me because when feeling God there is no need for faith in God. Knowledge supersedes the need for faith

but now I know that this is not true because I have come to doubt the knowledge itself even when it exists and that, I’ve found, is the worst of all doubts

for before I just had to wait for the God feeling to return but now it’s here and there’s nothing to wait for and yet I wonder whether it’s just the way

that the air feels against my skin and therein lies the danger of being taught that God is supposed to be beyond my perception because then what becomes of my perception? Falsity

31 toward the Omer

rushing waves rushing water water
rushing waves rushing water water
rushing waves rushing water water
rushing waves rushing water water
rushing waves rushing water water
rushing waves rushing water water

Friday, April 26, 2013

30 toward the Omer

My first chevruta visits and we have a lovely time catching up but it goes beyond that to contemplation of life things and places and people. It’s been so long

that I don’t remember if we used to talk quite this way but I like that we talk this way now. During our first hug I notice our height difference

and during our second hug I remember that we shared a chair once for an Acher lecture and it’s from then that our faces ended up on the Pardes brochures

while it is only as we hug a third and fourth time at the door that I fully realize you weren’t here and now you’re here and now you’re going

Thursday, April 25, 2013

29 toward the Omer

(During the fifth week of the Omer we recall the sefirah of Hod—translated both as splendor and as humility—and today we find lovingkindness and compassion within it)

Be kind to yourself in those moments when you wonder to yourself Maybe I am a Lamed Vavnik and then you think With that thought I invalidate the possibility

I don’t have a Messiah complex I have a Messiah, complex, who is as much me as anyone else, and I’ve made no attempt at saving the world anyway

(even though I dream of doing so. Oh how wondrous to just have everything fixed and all the people fed and no more spilling blood I’d just snap fingers

and sometimes when I pray I consider myself part of what keeps the world turning, like pressing down the knob on a salad spinner or treading a gerbil wheel

(although horrifying crap goes on here, the blood of our brother cries out from the ground and we step forward always forward, so maybe keeping it turning isn’t enough)

and I dream of prophecy, not just having knowledge but standing on a stage with my arms thrown wide and my eyes flashing and people Listening to my Message

(but what this message is remains unknown to me, I just know that whatever I will have to say it will be Important and people will Actually Pay Attention

because I know a lot of my desire to have them hear comes from a deep hatred of being tickled where when you say stop stop they don’t stop

and of dancing in a circle and the acceleration is now something beyond any of us or at least it is not me and I need it to end

there is a book slightly askew on a shelf not breathing but the bookshelf is in a glass case so I can never fix it but I need to

the righteous obsessive compulsive sees you throw plastic into a trash can says stop stop you’re tickling this hurt doesn’t stop please fix the world I can’t reach it))

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

28 toward the Omer

I’m not ready to leave New York I’m not ready to leave New York I’m not ready to leave New York I’m not ready to leave New York

I’m not ready to leave New York I’m not ready to leave New York I’m not ready to leave New York I’m not ready to leave New York

I’m not ready to leave New York I’m not ready to leave New York I’m not ready to leave New York I’m not ready to leave New York

Don’t panic you’re just getting your period Molly don’t worry it’s all gonna be fine it’s really fine you’ve done this before I’m not hush go to sleep

27 toward the Omer

if I’d watched my speech more carefully maybe we would never have gotten together maybe we never would have fallen apart but neither of these happened anyway

26 toward the Omer

There’s an unfinished section of the wall in the balcony of the Eldridge Street Synagogue and our tour guide asks us why we think that is

I raise my hand and suggest that it’s a reminder of the destroyed Temple that is not yet rebuilt (I didn’t actually say that last bit)

She tells us actually it’s there to demonstrate what state the synagogue was in before they restored it (really to show that they had restored it

because otherwise someone might walk in there and think it had always been just as beautiful as now but no they worked really hard you see

and there is little as frustrating as when someone sees you and thinks that you are not putting any effort into things but it took me

a long time to get to this place but there is no flap of skin you can lift to see the aged slats of wood underneath

I am no destroyed holy house nor will I be rebuilt I am no not yet what you see has always been my offer to you

Sunday, April 21, 2013

25 toward the Omer

The shadow from the lace mechitza falls across my open siddur so the apparatus separating me from everyone else creates at least one beautiful thing

Men together sharing a joyful purpose is also something beautiful and I observe maybe like God watches when two people find company in each other

My feminine presence once filled the whole room and so did God and then we did tsimtsum. Occasionally we regret it, wanting to mingle

but even though we want to take care of people sometimes it is more important for them to learn to seek and give comfort internally

Friday, April 19, 2013

24 toward the Omer

A bottle of hard cider sits on my counter
   Thinking of Noah and Aharon,
       I resolved not to drink when sad
          so it waits

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

23 toward the Omer

I am tempted to postpone writing for Day 23 until I have actually displayed some discipline and endurance but writing this solves it

22 toward the Omer

It is a tough week
with a kind interlude of chili and popcorn and friend and futon and The Secret of Kells

21 toward the Omer

I looked at the sky through my legs today
and ran across the grass with my arms spread as plane wings

Maybe some angels zoomed along with me
There’s a movie, Angels in the Outfield,
so I bet they’d’ve felt at home

20 toward the Omer

Getting enough sleep is essential
to functioning during halakha shiur
but prayer can be enhanced by a bit of tiredness

Like at Shavuot Shacharit when all I ask God for is a short Musaf and a bed waiting for me

That’s not true.
Last Shavuot I did not ask for those things
although Musaf was ridiculous
and I exhausted laughed

Even so nothing pulls me like my desire to return to sleep does
other than my desire to keep reading

I think of those who heard and felt the explosions this afternoon. May compassion reign supreme soon in our days

Sunday, April 14, 2013

19 toward the Omer

I hope you and I would still have become friends even if I had not been lonely freshman year

We had an agreement that I could chatter nonstop and you would only listen to thirty percent of it

You surely paid more attention than that while I skipped in order to keep up with your long strides

18 toward the Omer

You tell me about the day
when your son
                        went into the kitchen
                                    and you realized he was crying

            you quote him to me,
                        For what do people get born
                                    when no matter what they die?

God made it
            so people died,
                        you tell me you told him,
                                    else the next generation
                                                wouldn’t fit!

You tell me this story
            about eight times
                        in the course of an hour
                                    so I still remember

Thursday, April 11, 2013

17 toward the Omer

Tiferet sheb’Tiferet: Hannah (Omer Calendar of Biblical Women)

There are times
            when I wait
                        for someone who isn’t God
                                    to appear and keep me company

Other times
            I sing to God in private
                        and really would prefer
                                    that the door stay closed

One time
            you opened the door
                        and I shut up
                                    and was silent around you
                                                all afternoon

It was kind of like when that boy in middle school opened the bathroom door on me
I was horrified that he saw me naked staring at myself in the mirror but thrilled too

My beauty
            should be for God
                        and for my husband?
                                    My beauty
                                                should be for
                                                            the universe

16 toward the Omer

A pause as compassion
        starts its journey toward you
                Billows expand then contract
                        It leaps upward,

reaches hands forward, diving
        between the reefs of vocal chords
                where it gets trapped
                        and thrashes

Its struggles set the mucous membrane
        into nervous flutters
                that lend shape
                to its dying

Lame and faint
        the breath releases itself
                through dry parted lips
                        “I’m sorry
                        to hear that”

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

15 toward the Omer

She offers Neil Gaiman nosh            that has been waiting patiently by            while he enthralls us
Neil Gaiman tells her       "I would love a strawberry"       "I will definitely take some     strawberries"

14 toward the Omer

I draw myself up                to my most regal height              in my best Shabbos clothing
There is majesty in my posture         and in the narrowness        emphasized by my skirt
Gliding across the room              in the Chabad school building             is one of my joys
For I love       being taken        for a kind person       of grace      and unmarred elegance
Though I wish      that kind elegant unmarred graceful persons     weren’t hit on as often

Monday, April 8, 2013

13 toward the Omer

How happy it is to exult in front of an ark on Shabbat!
How glorious it is to sing with others in praise of our God!
How calming it is to know that our dancing has a holy purpose!
How worrisome it is to learn that a mouse died in the sink!

12 toward the Omer

I look down at my boots in the back of Naftali's truck
while I lounge on tarps next to a table that we're moving

There is no seatbelt and every once in a while I worry
that either I or the table is going to slide too much

but I think of the New York City subway and feel calm

11 toward the Omer

When considering, today, the natures of aloneness and companionship
I wondered how each of my cells feels among the rest

Is there a way to express the opposite of being alone
that doesn't make mention of the existence of other discrete entities?

I am not sure that there is companionship except in knowing
that the person standing next to you is also alone here

Black holes have event horizons and we too have a point
at which we'd just become each other and be alone together

There is the beginning of healing in recognizing our semipermeable membranes

Friday, April 5, 2013

10 toward the Omer

First, ten syllables per line, for I love iambic pentameter.

When harmony and discipline align
the universe expands in stately time
and galaxies aglow with mellow light
cavort in darkest space like butterflies

And though I think it’s dangerous to find
significance in every verse that rhymes
it seems that every now and then it might
make sense to see what meanings do arise

Does harmony require compromise?
Can love go on when lives don’t coincide?

Second, the traditional ten words per line.

This morning I woke up an hour and a half
before my cell phone alarm would have woken me up
and I decided to keep from turning my computer on
until after I had done at least one productive thing

That’s how I came to daven Psukei d’Zimrah and Shacharit
with tallis and tefillin and the prelims and the postlims
I started by putting a sweater back in its drawer
and ended a few minutes earlier than I would have

if I hadn’t remembered that we are still in Nissan
and therefore no matter what I feel there’s no Tachanun

Thursday, April 4, 2013

9 toward the Omer

Gevurah within Gevurah as the blankets nestle never tighter
around a sleeping figure content with power the world
has always known in its most constant quiet harmonies
The mild serene being neither contains nor is contained
It is neither black hole nor body emitting light
Lines on its face are neither cruel nor manic
There is no tension or force to be found
Solid through and soft with just the right heft
Its space taking up the right amount of space

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

8 toward the Omer

A young woman advises a friend by phone.
I tap her and give her thumbs up
when she mentions she's heard but cannot verify
that on yontif it is preferable when showering
to wash each part of the body separately.
After she hangs up we start talking Jewish,
dropping yeshivas, dripping Ashkenazis, and I am aware
of my blue jeansed legs crossing and uncrossing
and feel guilt and discomfort when I realize
I present like one who once was derekhed
instead of like one who might never arrive

*derekh: way, path

7 toward the Omer

People on the balcony across from me
are hammering away at a plastic container.
They pass the hammer back and forth,
he without gloves, she in yellow gloves.

I would say that I'd been trying
to identify the source of the sound
for weeks, but that is not true.
I had wondered, sure, but never looked.

A white dog weaves around their ankles.

6 toward the Omer

Paul du Chaillu discovered the gorillas
and gave smallpox to Gabonese people

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle scares me
while I consider Harvard Divinity School

My head is deep within Gemara
and my skin distinctly remembers God

I wash my hands by Halakha
and my shoulder distinctly remembers God

At what point do the answers
get buried under searching for them?

At what point do the answers
get smothered under caring for them?

I never asked to see God
under a microscope. Had no need