I have some rough edges. I go down
to daven to smooth them out, sometimes
in the embrace of a minyan,
sometimes with the melting fires of a heart
open to G d.
The center of my heart
beats a steady pulse, but my mind races
this way and that, following after
every sensual and mental vagary.
I long for sanity, for peace, for inclusion;
I stir the embers of passion
and blow on the fires of controversy.
I am a counselor and a mediator,
yet I cannot govern myself completely.
Voices well up, demanding to be heard,
insisting on their right to direct.
I calm them with cautionary tales
and advice from scripture. I sing to them
with a niggun from my rebbe.
in the Holy City, every stone a monument.
My own aspirations are linked
to their history, my destiny
to their future. Since we are – or will become –
dust, what does it matter how we build today?
What we leave behind, we leave for others
to build on. Let the foundations be strong!
And let the place where I stand to daven
support me well as I climb to the peak
of my soul and link her to the gracious G d,
who blesses me with her Holy Presence
and lifts me up to realms of being
I cannot reach alone.
27 Sivan, 5758
June 21, 1998
Awarded “Best Poem on a Spiritual Subject” by Poetica Magazine,
in its October 2004 issue