Amy Steingart lives in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Oberlin College studying English and creative writing. She has been published in Lame Duck ,Kind Writers, and RitualWell. Her collection I Am Where You Have Put Your Eggs was published in June 2019 from Small White Cat Press. She is inspired to create by listening to John Coltrane, harvesting dreams, and practicing Judaism.
Elul Ticks Away
Time is dividing itself now
into logical sections – hours, weeks days.
I plan them, note their passing in my calendar
feeling tidy and satisfied, feeling the
joy of crossing off lists.
When the virus roared in my ears, screamed down the streets,
time evaporated. It was dark, it was light
it did not matter. It didn’t make sense.
We did crossword puzzles,
baked only the most chocolate things,
watched the cat sleep,
anything to re-shape an hour, a day. It didn’t work.
And now here I am, happy to see the cardinal
in my garden, but
it is not the cardinal,
it is the first red leaf.
I am called to separate this time, these ten days
the most holy, the most meaningful, the deepest.
I am bidden to do the work of my soul --
I am not ready for it.
want to be the cardinal, not the leaf.
* * *
Elul ticks away.
The minute hand sweeps rapidly up
to Rosh Hashanah,
while I gape and gasp.
On Shabbat I am able to make kiddush,
breathing out holy space.
Shabbat repeats and repeats,
the date, the month does not matter,
so it is easy.
Perhaps the best I can do
is to devise ten Days of Awe.
String some shabbats together,
mix up a day’s worth of blessing,
start over again in the morning.
Breathe out sacred space, breathe in time.
Repeat this enough, the hour will strike Yom Kippur.
If I do not hear,
someone will tell me.
I can go back to the slowly arriving shabbats.
I will be the red leaf,
I will breathe out a song, breathe in time.
I will be the red leaf
if the cardinal sings to me,
brushes me like a kiss.