We are family

A mother poem which is also a Sukkot poem

The permeable world




All the world is a room made of windows
with different views through every pane

sit with me, knock two bowls together
hold an etrog carefully in both hands

watch me gather palm, myrtle and willow
and turn in four directions, hoping for gifts

from the winds that quake the aspen,
from the earth, from the spiraling fire

last Sukkot you were snug inside
but now you've joined the permeable world

when the rains come the roof leaks
but you're safe in my arms

and at night we're surrounded by angels
twinkling on all sides, escorting us through

This week's prompt at Big Tent Poetry invites us to get out of our houses. As it happens, this week is the Jewish festival of Sukkot, when we're commanded to, well, get out of our houses! We build little temporary huts in our backyards and inhabit those instead. (If you're coming to this blog via Big Tent Poetry, and/or if Sukkot is unfamiliar to you, you're welcome to check out my Sukkot posts from the last several years.)

Anyway, this week's mother poem is my response to the Big Tent Poetry prompt and to the experience of introducing Drew to our sukkah.

Drew, sitting in our sukkah.You can see more of our sukkah here, and more of Drew here.

Part of what was fun about writing this poem was trying to figure out how to make the images work on two levels at once. For instance, the reference to angels at the end of the poem comes out of the twinkling lights strung around the sukkah's roof and also out of the the angel song I sing to Drew most nights before bed. And the line about spiraling fire is meant to suggest both the maple leaves falling from the trees overhead, and my friend Daniel spinning LED poi (which I've now learned is also called glowstringing) outside the sukkah on Sunday night. Of course, Drew missed that; it was well after his bedtime. But it's one of my sweet Sukkot memories from this year anyway.

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



Edited to add: this poem is now available in Waiting to Unfold, my collection of motherhood poems, published by Phoenicia Publishing, 2013.