By Sarah Marcus:
ROSH HASHANAH, 5774
The moon was a sliver of itself
the first night I thought of you
combing a new year’s honey
through our hair.
We are taught to repent, but
it’s a poor translation,
for Teshuvah is to return
to come back to who we really are,
to an original state
where we have nothing
but possibility laid before us.
And it is written
as everything will be:
someone’s grandmother’s hands
smelling of cinnamon and clove,
a testament to a world
created as an expression
of limitless love,
The Rabbi says that when you share your words
you are sharing a part of your soul. Each moment
has the potential to be deeply spiritual, my children,
stand in the hugeness of it all.
Autumn has lingered years
for your arrival,
each leaf turned
even the branches
held their breath
waiting for us to ask the right questions,
for us to stop looking to the sky.
Sarah Marcus is the author of Nothing Good Ever Happens After Midnight (2016, GTK Press) and the chapbooks BACKCOUNTRY (2013) and Every Bird, To You (2013). Her next book, They Were Bears, is forthcoming from Sundress Publications in 2017. She is an editor at Gazing Grain Press, a spirited VIDA: Women in Literary Arts volunteer, and the Series Editor for As Is Ought To Be’s High School Poetry Series: Gender, Identity, & Race. Find her at sarahannmarcus.com.
Editor’s Note: But this is so much more than a Rosh Hashanah poem. This is a poem of the sacred and the secular. Of belief and being. Of awareness and action. This is the moment when memory becomes contemplation, when contemplation becomes questioning, when questioning demands more from us. Yes, this poem is stunning in its imagery and lyric. Yes, it is evocative and moving. Yes it is visceral and philosophical and spiritual. But it is so much more than that. For while “we have nothing / but possibility laid before us,” the very leaves hold their breath “waiting for us to ask the right questions, // for us to stop looking to the sky.”
Shanah Tovah u’Metukah to you, the faithful readers of this series. May the new year be sweet, and may you be the change you want to see in the world.