#BlogElul 17: Awaken
#BlogElul 18: Pray

A reprint of an old Elul poem


August: my mind changes.
I want to think swimming,
grapefruit sorbet dripping
down a sugar cone, berries
behind the house, but I can't.

I'm cleaning, humming
the song my father loves
the way Barbra sings it,
looking for my bobby pins,
checking my tallis case.

One year mice chewed through.
At my sister's shul in Boston
another woman had my bag,
ivory on ivory, embroidered.
I had to claim the holey one.

Summer's not over, not even
here where snow falls
two months too soon.
Every night it cools I think
of apples weighting trees.

Zucchini bread like practice
for honeycake, the same
baking pan, the same motions.
The horn of the year spirals
to its tekiah g'dolah.


My friend Marisa James posted this poem to Facebook recently, saying that she was finding it meaningful this month. I hadn't reread it in a long time; I'm gratified to see that I still like it!

This poem was first published in my second chapbook, What Stays (Bennington Writing Seminars Alumni Chapbook Series, 2002.) Apparently that chapbook is available online, though I can't vouch for the seller; I also have some copies available for sale for $8, and if you want one, drop me a line and we'll work out shipping costs.

The song referenced in the poem is Max Janowski's setting of Avinu Malkeinu.

After this poem was published, I started writing and sharing Elul poems each year during the lead-in to the Days of Awe. You can read my archived Elul / New Year's poems here: VR New Year's Poems 2003-present.