Susan Palwick's "Brief Visits"
Two prayers after the hurricane

A (slightly late) poem for the yahrzeit of my Biblical namesake

Mother Rachel

how long did you labor
contractions slamming you
against the rocks

Benjamin's first cry
your last breath
beneath the swelling moon

the hidden sages
call you Shekhinah
motherhood incarnate

your death, Her descent
into the long night
of exile

rest in your tomb
dry as a seedpod
watching from the road

the root of spring
you wait for redemption
to flower in us

The yahrzeit -- death-anniversary -- of the Biblical matriarch Rachel was a few days ago. It always falls around this time of year on the Gregorian calendar, making it relatively near to Halloween.

I've always been fascinated by Rachel, and by midrash and teachings relating to Rachel. (Here's some fairly basic material about Rachel at Jewish Virtual Library.) After my miscarriage, one of my teachers gave me a piece of red thread which had been wound seven times around Rachel's tomb -- a Jewish folk-blessing for fertility and safe pregnancy.

This poem owes a great deal to the teachings of Rabbi Jill Hammer. See Cheshvan | TelShemesh, particularly the sections on 11 Cheshvan (Rachel's death-anniversary) and Other Paths.

All feedback welcome. Happy Halloween to those who celebrate.