Monday, September 28, 2009

Welcoming Yom Kippur

Our rabbi Esther introduced today's Yom Kippur service at Temple Micah with the following poem. Read it out loud just as she did and enjoy all those beautiful pictures the poet paints. I especially like the last line; it captures a lot of the sentiment of this holiday.

The Art of Blessing the Day
By Marge Piercy

This is the blessing for rain after drought:
Come down, wash the air so it shimmers,
a perfumed shawl of lavender chiffon.
Let the parched leaves suckle and swell.
Enter my skin, wash me for the little
chrysalis of sleep rocked in your plashing.
In the morning the world is peeled to shining.

This is the blessing for sun after long rain:
Now everything shakes itself free and rises.
The trees are bright as pushcart ices.
Every last lily opens its satin thighs.
The bees dance and roll in pollen
and the cardinal at the top of the pine
sings at full throttle, fountaining.

This is the blessing for a ripe peach:
This is luck made round. Frost can nip
the blossom, kill the bee. It can drop,
a hard green useless nut. Brown fungus,
the burrowing worm that coils in rot can
blemish it and wind crush it on the ground.
Yet this peach fills my mouth with juicy sun.

This is the blessing for the first garden tomato:
Those green boxes of tasteless acid the store
sells in January, those red things with the savor
of wet chalk, they mock your fragrant name.
How fat and sweet you are weighing down my palm,
warm as the flank of a cow in the sun.
You are the savor of summer in a thin red skin.

This is the blessing for a political victory:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let's not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain.

The blessing for the return of a favorite cat,
the blessing for love returned, for friends'
return, for money received unexpected,
the blessing for the rising of the bread,
the sun, the oppressed. I am not sentimental
about old men mumbling the Hebrew by rote
with no more feeling than one says gesundheit.

But the discipline of blessings is to taste
each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet
and the salty, and be glad for what does not
hurt. The art is in compressing attention
to each little and big blossom of the tree
of life, to let the tongue sing each fruit,
its savor, its aroma and its use.

Attention is love, what we must give
children, mothers, fathers, pets,
our friends, the news, the woes of others.
What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can't bless it, get ready to make it new.


Blogger Pauline said...

That was a splendid poem! Thanks for sharing.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

That was terrific. I really like Marge Piercy -- I read one of her early 1970s novels not long ago and it was a great illustration of the whole "granola" era in and around Harvard. I remember a friend had one of her poetry books, called "The Moon is Always Female."

11:39 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

This is lovely, and the last line really sticks. It reminds me of one of the books we read to the kids last week, giving thanks for everything and making a habit of it.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too find this beautiful; thank you, Barbara! The last three stanzas especially bring tears to my eyes.


11:05 PM  

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