Repairing the ladder
Passing the virtual hat for prayer rug cleaning

Another mother poem (for Big Tent Poetry) - Hand-Me-Downs


My knife zips through tape
and the box unfolds its wings.
I lift little pockets of emptiness,
their sleeves carefully tucked.

Each of these an embrace
in jersey knit, in waffle weave
or flannel, snug turtlenecks
and button-downs. This red one --

short-sleeved, blazoned
with the alphabet -- urges me
to measure each day: fall is coming,
bright goldenrod and schoolbuses

and soon sleeveless rompers
will seem as implausible
as the idea that you were ever
small enough to wear

what I place now
in a box which once held Pampers.
The packing tape screeches.
I seal the summer away.

This week's prompt at Big Tent Poetry invites us to attend mindfully to doing something with our hands, and to see what poem arises out of that experience.

There's a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov about doing whatever work is at hand with holy mindfulness and attention. In this way, he writes, we create a dwelling-place for God wherever we are. It's a teaching I've thought about often during these first nine months of parenthood, and it came to mind again when I saw this week's poetry prompt.

This week I've been swapping out Drew's wardrobe -- boxing up the clothes which have become too small, and unboxing the next set of hand-me-downs from our close friends whose son is a year and change older than Drew -- so that was the task which gave rise to the poem.

The third stanza contains a slantwise Psalm 90 reference. The line about measuring each day came, in part, out of practicing a musical setting for Psalm 90 (which my shul will use in our Yizkor / Memorial service on Yom Kippur) which includes the line "Teach us to treasure each day." That wording felt too precious for a mother poem like this one, but when I shifted it to "measure," I was happy with how it sounded.

Here's a link to this week's "Come One, Come All" post so you can see how others responded to this prompt.