Driving through shadows,
The world asleep,
Some trudging to the toilet,
Splashing stored up urges
Into unknown paths of darkness
Dancing along charcoal coated streets
In the distance a red thread cuts
Across the sky, a reminder of sun yet to rise.
I head toward the harsh light
Piercing the blackness around it
Blinking I step into a space awash with
The white glare of fluorescence ,
A blank page inscribed
With black circles of leather straps
And black boxes, holding tiny gems
Of holy letters.
Some stand, waiting silently,
Some sit, waiting with eyes shut
Relishing traces of tucked in warmth
Some peer at prayers, preparing,
Lips limbered up for the race to God.
Silence is broken-“I have Kaddish to say
For my father”- almost tearfully,
Pleadingly, “will there be a minyan?”
Amidst the chorus of assurances
Footsteps are heard , the arrival of the morning messiah.
Chanting begins and curls along
The white walls of this miniature sanctuary,
A tiny chapel to fit the smallness of the crowd
Its crannies cramped with the drone of ancient words
Words centuries old.
Some sway, some simply sit,
Frozen in a far away stare into
A distant past-
Bringing a lilt to morning’s awakening.
One is wordless, his prayer-
His presence, passing along alms plate,
And when aging , shaky hands, barely able to hold hymnal
Are summoned to raise the weight of Torah scroll
He praises with powerful arms lifted on high-
And all can see the black on white, like waves of the sea
Flowing over beds of dry land, watering thirsty mouths
Parched by time’s irreversible passage.
Sons praise God, purging guilt
Sustaining the soul somewhere
Widows weep, sitting patiently,
Wondering what to do,
Now standing , the center of attention,
Whispering sounds of loss and loneliness,
Letters mispronounced, love grammatically correct.
I step into the sunshine of a new day
And above, draping the world in hope
Is a canopy of blue, unfolding, outstretching, from
The single thread of a humble prayer shawl.