#blogElul 29: Return

BlogElul 2016I turn again toward you.
My eyes are clear and open.
I keep you always before me.
Your presence makes me glad.

My eyes are clear, and open
to the future I can't yet see.
Your presence makes me glad
I leap into the unknown.

To the future I can't yet see:
thank you for waiting for me.
I leap into the unknown.
I trust that I won't fall.

Thank you for waiting for me.
With you, I'm never alone.
I trust that I won't fall.
I keep hope in you.

With you, I'm never alone.
Sing to me and I am strong.
I keep hope in you.
I open my heart wide.

Sing to me and I am strong.
I keep you always before me.
I open my heart wide.
I turn again toward you.


 

Yes, it's another pantoum. (Maybe I need a pantoum category on my blog, to go along with the sestina category.)

Writing these Elul poems has been a gift for me, and has helped me stay connected with my own spiritual life even at this season when my professional life ramps up. I hope that reading them has been sweet for you.

L'shanah tovah -- wishing you a sweet new year.

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


For #blogElul 28: Give

BlogElul 2016My poems are a dime
a dozen. I write so many

they must blur together
even in your memory.

I used to think
I should keep silent,

try to take up less room
-- but I'm pretty sure

you don't want me
to shut off the spigot,

keep my words from flowing.
You know what the poems

really are: distillations
of my love for you

offered with every beat
of my aching heart.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 27: Bless

Your voice cascades
    chains of blessing

        washing over me
            like mikvah waters

                awakening each nerve
                    with sheer delight.

I press fingers
    to my wrist:

        there's your name
            pulsing in me

                with each beat
                    of my heart.

What it means
    to bless you.

        My dear one,
            open my lips:

                I want to
                    sing your praise.


 

Chains of blessing. See the trope marking shalshelet.BlogElul 2016

 

To my wristOne mode of wrapping tefillin maps each of the seven wraps on the forearm to one of the seven "lower" sefirot. The wrap that goes right over the pulse point is the one that maps to malchut or Shekhinah.

Open my lips. From the verse which precedes the Amidah, "Eternal God, open my lips that I may proclaim Your glory." (Also the title of my latest poetry collection from Ben Yehuda Press.)

 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 26: Create

BlogElul 2016In this new chapter
I seek out bright colors.

I make the bed every morning.
I don't scoff at slow cookers.

I like gentler, less tannic wines.
I wear contact lenses now.

From these thin threads
the fabric of a life will emerge.

Will the patterns be bold
and beautiful? Will the weave

hold up to hard use
or will it come apart in my hands?

I never learned how to manage
my own loom, not by myself.

Remind me even in my knots
and mistakes there is beauty.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 25: Intend

To be aware in every moment
of your hand on my shoulderblade
and the earth beneath my feet.

To notice the gleam of grass
in late morning sun, highlighting
the single reddened maple leaf.

To be patient with myself
when grief wells up. To wrap myself
in kindness like a woolen tallit.

To close the book on the old year.
I never have to push my way through
those narrow straits again.


  BlogElul 2016

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 23: Begin

BlogElul 2016With every ending, something new begins.
The end of one chapter starts the next
until the tale itself comes to a close.
We write the book of life with our own hands.

The end of one chapter starts the next
unfolding. Every day that we're alive
we write the book of life with our own hands.
I want your name on every page of mine:

unfolding every day that I'm alive.
Your name reminds me who I want to be --
I want your name. On every page of mine
let me write kindness and compassion.

Your name reminds me who I want to be.
My name reminds me I am God's, I'm strong.
Let me write kindness and compassion
in the book that reads from itself.

My name reminds me I am God's, I'm strong.
The days grow shorter: that's okay.
In the book that reads from itself
I can write my way to happiness.

The days grow shorter: that's okay.
Until the tale itself comes to a close
I can write my way to happiness
with every ending. Something new begins.


We write the book of life with our own hands... in the book that reads from itself. See Everyday I write the book.  

My name reminds me I am God's, I am strong. My middle name in Hebrew is Gavriela, "God's Strength." 

I seem to be on something of a pantoum kick lately. The new year's poem I co-wrote for ALEPH with Rabbi David is a pantoum, and so is the poem I wrote for #blogElul day 8. There's something about how the form loops back in on itself that feels especially appropriate for this season of reflection and teshuvah.

 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 22: End

BlogElul 2016Ending a chapter is hard, especially
not knowing what the next will hold.
I write the book of my life with my deeds,
it reads from itself and my signature
is there plain as day, but I don't get
to read ahead. The Jewish year is ending.
There's plenty I don't mind relegating
to memory: every painful conversation,
what we came to call emotional root canal.
Hours sitting tense on the tiny couch
in the couples counselor's office -- not
his fault, but none of that is time
I'd choose to re-live. Let it be over.
A lot of the stories I used to tell
about who I was, who I thought I'd be --
those are over too, and their replacements
not yet known. Can I open my hands, let go
of every ending without losing my grasp
on the things that have no limit?
Love, given and received. Hope
for what might be coming. My gratitude
for you, vast as the Milky Way splashed
across heavens that seem to have no end.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 21: Love

BlogElul 2016Everything I write is a love letter to you.
Some days I'm afraid you don't read them:
that insidious voice whispers in my ear
that even you couldn't possibly want

my graphomanic tendencies. That in writing
day after day I make unreasonable demands.
That my unruly heart takes up too much space.
I can't excise that voice, but I can turn

from the poison it spreads. I remind myself
that you love me not despite who I am
but because of who I am, and that means
all of me. You see my whole heart, even

the parts I try to hide. You don't want me
to pretend. You receive me as I am.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 20: Fulfill

BlogElul 2016When it comes to you, dearest one,
I am profligate with promises:

I will remember you everywhere
I will open my eyes to you always

the channel between your heart and mine
will always be open, even when I ache

because you are too far away
or because my words fail me.

I wish I could adorn you with stars
but all I have are sparks

glinting between my cupped hands
cast by the tireless fire of my heart.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 19: Judge


Your Honor, I don't need to tell you
where I've fallen short: you've seen

the times when I chose silence because
I couldn't bear to stand up for myself...

No one would blame you if you told me
I'm not worth rehabilitating, not after

all these years of ignoring my needs
and pretending I didn't hear your voice.

I lift my gaze to yours expecting lightning
but instead I get the hazel waters

of my childhood river, warm and gentle.
You don't fault me the time it took.

You tell me I wasn't put here only
to weep. You wipe my brimming eyes.


  BlogElul 2016

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 18: Ask


Did you know all along that this is where I would be:
sitting on a secondhand couch in a half-darkened room
with laptop and glass of a crisp Oregon Pinot Gris
writing poems after singing the kid's bedtime songs
and closing his door behind me? Did you know a year ago
as the new moon approached that I was steeling myself
to admit unhappiness I'd never been able to speak?
Did you know I wouldn't be renewing those vows again --
instead I'd be disentangling from the fine knotted threads
of the household, of the narrative, of the future I used
to think was a given? Did you know, and if I'd been able
somehow to hear the words would you have told me then
that I would be here now, buffeted sometimes by grief
but able to trust that the tempests will someday recede,
that I will find my way to calm waters, to a new shore?


  BlogElul 2016

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 17: Awaken

BlogElul 2016Every day you
open my eyes
to my choices
and my flaws.

You wake me
to my strength,
to the earth
beneath my feet.

You wake me
to the places
where I've failed
to remember you

not to shame
but to spark
my heart's yearning
to do better.

Wake me up
in every moment.
Don't let me
fall back asleep.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 16: Pray

BlogElul 2016You are the first thought I want
to have. Are you there this morning?
Can I sense you? Have I thanked you
yet today for the melody that twined
through my dreaming, the one
that sounded the way tzitzit feel
when I remember how it feels to wind
the strands of white with blue?
As the pages of my morning turn
I look for you on every one, and for
myself in every line I write to you.
Am I someone you would be proud of
right now, given what I've just done?
And how about now, unloading dishes
while my son asks again if he can eat
in front of the television? And now,
reeling with unanticipated joy, or grief?
Thank you for seeing me even when
no one else does, and in seeing me
reminding me that I am cherished
even when I feel most alone.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 15: Change


When the ground beneath my feet shifts like sand
when I wake to unfamiliar views out foreign windows

when the stories I once told about how my life would be
unravel like a sweater whose loose thread is pulled

when my thumb reaches again and again for my index finger
making sure the rings are still there and then I remember

when I tell yet another acquaintance how much has changed
and then comfort them because it's more than they can bear

the constant I know I can count on is you, tucked
inside the innermost chamber of my storm-tossed heart

and because love is a mobius strip with no beginning or end
you carry me safe and cherished even as I carry you


  BlogElul 2016

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 14: Learn

BlogElul 2016How to feel you with me
hand on my shoulderblade
song in my ear

how to share with you
the surprise of wild mint,
the blue of September sky

how to let summer slip
through my fingers
without grieving its passing

how to trust
you'll be here with me
even when the days grow dark


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 13: Remember


I know there was a moment when everything changed.
When I opened a door and became aware of you.

Since then you hover at the edge of my awareness
like sunlight warming my face, like cinnamon

or etrog peel spicing my senses. What I can't recall
is how it felt to be blind to you, and to hide

even from myself the fact that I was ignoring
love's rhythmic knock on the door of my heart.

How did I not notice I was going through the day
with one eye closed, with half of my self

tied behind my back? Now that I'm awake, I promise
I won't ever choose to go back to sleep.

 


  BlogElul 2016

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 12: Forgive

BlogElul 2016The most difficult, of course, is myself.
No one else sees my failings half so clearly.
Every word I should have said and didn't, or
should have known better than to speak.
And my heart that flows in ways not wanted.
And the harsh decrees I ached so to sweeten
and wasn't strong enough, or wise enough...
Sometimes I skirt the edges of despair, but
you remind me that through the eyes of love
every flaw is softened, every misstep becomes
part of the path. Where I see weakness
you see strength. I see every missed mark:
you see the trajectory of my striving, and
call it good. Tell me again that when it comes
to my yearning, when it comes to every way
I've fallen short, I don't need your forgiveness
-- you've already granted it. All I have to do
is see myself through your irreplaceable eyes.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 11: Trust

BlogElul 2016With my life.
I place myself in your hands
without fear. I know that to you
I am precious cargo.

With my fragility.
You see my vulnerable places,
my most wrenching tears.
You would never shame me.

With my strength.
I don't have to hide my skill
or my fury: you want all of me,
without pretense.

With my heart.
I can love you
with infinite fierceness
and you won't turn away.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 10: Count

BlogElul 2016Things that have no limit
in this world or any other:

how often I can think of you
and feel my sadness lessen

the comfort that I find in you
from eve to night to morning

how many times I turn to you
to see my best self reflected

the gratitude I feel for you
(how did I get so lucky?)

All of these are infinite --
my love for you is greater.


 

I've written this poem before -- or others very like it. As a poet, recognizing my own repetition is frustrating. But as someone who prays, I see the value in repetition and near-repetition, so I'm sharing this poem even though I have used the "things that have no limit" (אלו דברים שאין להם שיעור) reference / device before. 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 9: Observe

BlogElul 2016The exterior's a little shabby,
could use a coat of paint.

A bit worn after a hard year:
not a lot of curb appeal.

Most people walk right by.
Not you: you see

the mezuzah in the doorway,
the light in the living room.

You see my heart, tender
and afraid no one will ever want --

Tell me again that I'm worthy
even when I feel most broken.

Tell me again that my strength
is beautiful, and makes me whole.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.