The centrality of questioning
World enough, and time

A tele-davenen poem


We're fumbling for melody
when a faraway voice rings out.
Though it's five A.M.
in Reb Daniel's time zone
for an instant I imagine
he's teaching us the tune.

Afterwards the emails fly
like chickadees to the feeder:
who played the mp3?
No one owns up. He's our ghost
in the machine, spirit
crackling through the wires.

We build this mishkan
by showing up week after week
through static and silence,
offering old prayers
through new cellphones, Skype
oscillating like the sea.

Like our ancestors before us,
each of us brings
the half-shekel of a soul
in need of repair.
They match like broken lockets
made whole, finally restored.

We joke, in my telephone shacharit group, that someday we ALEPHniks are going to write the halakha of phone davenen. We take classes over the phone, we hold hevruta sessions over the phone, and now we even daven over the phone: we're experts in telepresence! One of the traditional names for God is "ha-Makom," the Place; I feel increasingly that when we meet in this placeless way, God is the Place in Whom we connect.

This post at readwritepoem inspired me to try embedding my first sound file. Edited to add: Alas, the audio player at the top of this post doesn't seem to appear in my blog aggregator, so if you want to hear me read the poem, you'll either need to visit the post page itself, or  download visitation.mp3.

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