Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Minyan

Driving through shadows,
The world asleep,
Some trudging to the  toilet,
Splashing  stored up urges
Into unknown paths of darkness

Flickering  amber
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-
Some sing, 
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.

Yisgadal v’yiskadash-
Sons praise God, purging guilt
Preserving  memory
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.

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