How We Get By
Poem written by Em Meuller, used with permission from the author See how the sun wants to get through pushing light past sodden clouds. See how trees hold up the sky like Atlas' rounded shoulders weighted by earth. Can you see those white specks of net -- a soccer goal, forlorn, praying for children to play. See how relentless we go on and on, the sky, the sun, trees, earth, me, you reading this poem.
Poem written by Em Meuller, used with permission from the author If you name it you can change it. Rabbi Elaine Zecher How to condense missing the mark into one word that conveys all the meaning of putting your bow to your shoulder, your left hand on the grip, the wood seductively smooth, your right two fingers pulling the string with the arrow notched and resting on its shelf, pulling back until your fingers themselves notch yet still pulling wider the space between bow and string, winding up energy into the fletchings so the arrow can spin, keep its course, its speed and line and thump near enough to bulls eye that the blinding light of explosion wakes you up to what you need to do?
Bathing: The Mikvah
Poem written by Em Meuller, used with permission from the author For my sixtieth birthday I submerged myself in rain water gathered in barrels, pumped through tubes to a pool in a room built with Jerusalem stone and lights quiet as candles. Life exists in the preparation: clean under your nails — toes and fingers, a Q-tip for your ears, belly button; tooth brush taken from an unwrapped box; wash your hair, body. Cleansed, wrap yourself in a towel large as a bed sheet and step into the holy space where water transforms you into blessing.
Poem written by Em Meuller, used with permission from the author This week we read about the time Jacob lay his head upon a rock for a pillow and dreams a ladder going up up up through the sky to god’s home and angels — messengers of god going up and down, up and down. In the morning when he wakes up he says “God is in this place and I I did not know” and the angels are our mothers and fathers and their mothers and fathers all the way back to the first climber out of the muck and all our children — the future — up and down, up and down, present to us, the not, and we — you and me alive right now — hold the ladder here, in this place.
In Week’s Field
Poem written by Em Meuller, used with permission from the author With gulls and crows and my dog running circles around me, the goal posts, the trunk of the tree, I shout at the top of my lungs “Get the birds, Teddy! Get the birds!” He barks and races all four feet off the ground at one time flying, trying to catch the seagulls, the crows, anything with wings, fiercely joyous, loving the chase, the stretch, the soft grass under his paws, the whistling air.
Gathering of Geese
Poem written by Em Meuller, used with permission from the author This year the Canada geese have come to the field behind my house. Through morning frost and wind that drifts like a desert they pull at the grass -- old men in shul, davening. They make no noise huddled in a clump facing north their backs to the muted sun. Perhaps drawn by a new patch of green one wanders a little away and so slowly I hardly notice the others follow nibbling the earth as if unafraid. When the dog comes barking from the left they stretch their necks unfolding like a prayer, their wings insistent drums.
What We Call Weeds
Poem written by Em Meuller, used with permission from the author I hack the kudzo clogging the dead Kharmann Ghia, blossom of my honeymoon. Now its paint and rusted belly mingle with saplings and if I mow I mow around the old beauty otherwise I paint a sign with permanent pens on an old shingle stake it into the ground: Butterfly Garden.
Poem written by Em Meuller, used with permission from the author Forgive me for dyeing my gray, being afraid, wanting to kill my dog (he follows me like winter). Forgive me coveting my neighbor's family but you must understand they laugh a lot. Forgive me wanting to live alone in the stone room at the top of Mount Sinai desperate to touch my lips to desert. Forgive me. I can't remember everything.
What the skin hungers for
Poem written by Ellen Steinbaum, used with permission from the author The heartfelt handshake, yes, or hug of course, but maybe even more what would have passed unnoticed then: the slight encountering of edges as we leaned into one another on subway seats enlarged in winter by layers of sweaters, coats and, through our clothes, the stranger’s arm was simple presence only, hardly felt, the way in narrow theater seats, a sleeve to sleeve or even briefest brush of flesh to flesh occurred below the level of intrusion, leaving now only a vague insistent drone: the aching touch of what is absent.
Poem written by Ellen Steinbaum, used with permission from the author now in the fragile time between the thunder claps in the time after the sky split open and solidness dissolved the fire continues to leave no one unscorched shelter collapses again and again around us the acrid dust preserves us perfect as Pompeii gentle with each other liable to break we must sort through what is left to us sift the rubble for what we have lost