My last smicha students' week
6 tastes of Ruach ha-Aretz

Another mother psalm: bringing the baby to morning prayer



Don't chew on your mama's tefillin
I say, dislodging the leather
from your damp and eager grasp.
We play peekaboo beneath my tallit,
hiding your face and revealing it
the way God is sometimes present
sometimes not. You like the drums,
the fiddle and clarinet.
You bang your rattle on the floor.
As we sing "Praise God,
all you elders and young children"
you bellow and and we laugh.
During silent prayer your yearning
opens my floodgates.
When the Torah is carried around
I waltz you in my arms, my own scroll.
All my prayers are written
in your open face.

This week's morning prayer arises out of the experience of going to morning prayer with Drew every day of this two-week ALEPH retreat at Pearlstone. Services here vary from day to day: sometimes it's all Hebrew in straight weekday nusach, and sometimes there are drums and instruments and chanting and all kinds of liturgical creativity. Drew seems to enjoy himself regardless; I hold him in my lap, dance him around the room, usually nurse him at some point. Fortunately, this crowd seems to dig his noises and his excitable little-boy energy.

The mini-anecdote about Drew calling out at exactly the right moment in psalm 148 is a true story, by the way. No sooner did we sing בַּחוּרִים וְגַם-בְּתוּלוֹת; זְקֵנִים, עִם-נְעָרִים ("men and young women; elders and youths") than Drew burst out with a squeal, and the room collapsed in laughter. It was pretty awesome.

There's no recording of this week's poem; I wasn't able to find the time and space to record it. Sorry, y'all.

This mother poem wasn't written in response to any prompts, but if you want to see what the other folks at Big Tent Poetry did this week, check out this week's Come One, Come All post.

Edited to add: this poem is now available in Waiting to Unfold, my collection of motherhood poems, published by Phoenicia Publishing, 2013. And you can find other posts, including other poems about tefillin, in my tefillin category.