On naming our son
Chanukah poem for Drew

El Shaddai (Nursing Poem)


Was God overwhelmed
when Her milk first came in

roused by our thin cries
for compassion?

She'd birthed creation
from amoebas to galaxies

but did she expect to see
her own changeability

mirrored behind our eyes?
Nothing could have prepared Her

for the shift from singularity
to multiplicity.

And the blank-faced angels
offered their constant praise

without understanding her joy
or the depth of her fear.

"El Shaddai" is a traditional Hebrew name for God. It can be translated as "God of the mountains" or "God of breasts."

My teacher Reb Marcia Prager has taught that one way of understanding Jewish prayer life is to think of our prayers and God's response as analagous to the process set in motion when a baby cries and the mother's milk lets down.

The kernel of this poem came to me during a 3am feeding last week on our second night home from the hospital with Drew.

This week's prompt at ReadWritePoem is How to write the sex poem right. Needless to say, I didn't manage to write to the prompt (though I suppose you could argue that a nursing poem is one of the possibilities which could follow some months after the completion of a successful sex poem!) but if you want to see how others responded, check out this week's "get your poem on" post.