I recently discovered Totally Optional Prompts, "a community of people who gather to share poetry." Each Saturday night a new prompt is posted; on Thursday poets are invited to share the work the prompt occasioned.
When I started this blog, there was a firmer line in my mind between my poetry and my Judaic work than there is now. I knew both were important to me, but I thought people who were interested in one wouldn't be interested in the other. But a lot has changed for me in the four+ years (!) since VR was born. I've come to feel part of an online community of poets and writers who transcend both region and genre...and as I've delved into the work of writing poems which are also prayers and psalms, I've been integrating the poet side of me with the religious side of me in new ways.
This is just to say, I guess, that I'm increasingly attuned to how my religious practice feeds my poetry, and how my background in poetry shapes my religious practice. So it's possible I might post poems here a bit more frequently than I've done to date. I hope no one will be unduly troubled by that. (I wonder why, after all these years, I still feel compelled to apologize for bringing Judaism into my poetry world or poetry into my Jewish world.)
This week's Totally Optional Prompt, offered by Tiel Aisha Ansari of Knocking from Inside, is places. Boy do I consider myself a poet of place! I get deliciously obsessed with the details of places: places I've loved, places I've called home, places I've only imagined. One of my favorite names for God is ha-Makom, "The Place" -- Judaism understands God as the Place in which all creation unfolds, how cool is that? My response to the prompt is a poem called "Standard Time," which appears below the cut: enjoy.
November Tuesday, 4pm:
the sun ducks its shy head
behind the mountains,
off to its next engagement.
Every year I rail
against the wind and the rain
that strip the flames
from these hills
but there's blessing
in this soft chamois landscape,
the arrows of conifers
reminding my heart how to rise.
Nothing else matches
this long low light,
simmering soup and rising bread
an embodied welcome home.
I brace myself for loss,
list the fruits we won't be able
to find. I tie myself in knots
but when it comes
it's a gentle hand cupping my face
reminding me of all the things
we never lose.