Mothers and sons
Everyday I write the book

Holiday poem

Poems can take on a life of their own, especially once they're released into the world. Every year I write at least one poem related to the Days of Awe, and I send it around as a new year's card. To my great pleasure, some of those poems are starting to find a wider audience.

Last year, two of my High Holiday poems were published at Tel Shemesh. This year, a poem or two of mine are slated to be included in a High Holiday supplement at Heska Amuna, a Conservative shul in Knoxville, TN. And the new poem I wrote this fall (and printed on this year's card) has had some adventures, too; it was apparently read at a harvest moon gathering, alongside Robert Frost's "Unharvested" (now that's fine literary company!)

How do I know this? Because my friend Diana Elvin chronicled it in Celebrating a fall bounty, her most recent newspaper column. Though the formatting isn't preserved in the online edition, the print version features the penultimate stanza of my poem as the pull-quote for the article, which is pretty neat. (Thanks, Diana and Advocate editors!)

I'd like to share the poem with you -- at least, with those of you who are interested in poetry. (I'll put it beneath the extended-entry link.) May the coming holidays be sweet for you, and Shabbat shalom to you all!



How to make it new:
each year the same missing
of the same marks,
the same petitions
and apologies.

We were impatient, unkind.
We let ego rule the day
and forgot to be thankful.
We allowed our fears
to distance us.

But every year
the ascent through Elul
does its  magic,
shakes old bitterness
from our hands and hearts.

We sit awake, itemizing
ways we want to change.
We try not to mind
that this year's list
looks just like last.

The conversation gets
easier as we limber up.
Soon we can stretch farther
than we ever imagined.
We breathe deeper.

By the time we reach the top
we've forgotten
how nervous  we were
that repeating the climb
wasn't worth the work.

Creation gleams before us.
The view from here matters
not because it's different
from last year
but because we are

and the way to reach God
is one breath at a time,
one step, one word,
every second a chance
to reorient, repeat, return.

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