For NaPoWriMo 4: a love poem
Day 2 of the Omer

Day 1 of the Omer



The Egyptian sky
    was a goddess
        doing a backbend.

Once we crossed
    the watery barrier
        she gave way

and the heavens
    became sapphire floor
        beneath the throne.

And we stood
    by the sea
        and sang praises

because what else
    could we do,
        we who survived?

Here we are
    again, shaking off
        salt water tears

on a shore
    we've never seen.
        There's no map.

Above us, miles
    of air stretching
        to kiss vacuum:

all that freedom
    impossible to bear
        sometimes. Too much

depends on us.
    Last night's maror
        stings our eyes.

Ahead: uncharted space,
    the holy wilderness
        of the heart.

Take one step
    into the labyrinth.
        Leave Egypt behind.

Today is the first day of the Omer -- the measured period of 49 days which we count between Pesach and Shavuot, between liberation and revelation. Over the next seven weeks I'll be sharing daily poems which are intended to open new windows into the spiritual journey of counting the Omer.

(I mean "today" in the Jewish sense. A Jewish day begins and ends at sundown. So today, the first day of the Omer, began Saturday evening at sundown, and will end this evening at sundown. Many people count the Omer at sundown, when the "day" is new. But I'll be sharing these daily Omer poems in the morning.)

"The Egyptian sky / was a goddess / doing a backbend" -- one of the deities in the Egyptian pantheon was Nut, sometimes depicted as a star-covered woman arching over the earth.

"[T]he heavens / became sapphire floor / beneath the throne" -- see parashat Mishpatim and its description of the floor beneath the divine throne as being like sapphire. The idea of the sky changing as the prevailing beliefs change also owes a debt to Elizabeth Bear's Eternal Sky books.

Today we take our first step on the journey between Pesach and Shavuot. What are we headed toward? What are we leaving behind?