Tisha b'Av and sounds of sorrow
The height of summer

A mother poem for Shabbat Nachamu: Comforter


you wake in your crib's embrace
from the dream of a distant heartbeat

a voice says cry out!
and you cry out

bewailing the tragedy of separation
until I gather you to my breast

glowing numbers shift silently
and your desperation eases

someday you'll learn to fumble soft stars
into their places

to nuzzle your giraffe
and count adinkra like talismans

but for now I am consolation
I make the rough places plain

This Shabbat -- the first Shabbat after Tisha b'Av -- is called Shabbat Nachamu, a name which comes from the first word of tomorrow's assigned reading from the Prophets. That reading is Isaiah 40:1-26, and the first words are נַחֲמוּ נַחֲמוּ, עַמִּי / nachamu nachamu, ami -- rendered in one familiar translation as "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people."

Drew's sleep schedule has been tough on me since we went to Baltimore. Since we're waking up several times a night again, nighttime nursing became the subject of this week's poem. But I wanted to write something with broader resonance, so I also drew on imagery from the haftarah reading for this week -- several of the images in this poem are direct quotes or references to chapter 40 of Isaiah.

Adinkra are Ghanaian symbols, each of which represents an idea or teaching. We painted a dozen favorite symbols along the ceiling of Drew's nursery last summer. (It looks pretty neat.)

This week's poem wasn't written in response to this week's Big Tent Poetry prompt, but you can check out this week's Come One, Come All post if you want to see what others wrote.