Mizmor L'David Anthology 

 

Poetica Magazine
                                           Contemporary Jewish Writing

Ariel Friedman is a cellist, composer, and poet. Recently, she was selected for a workshop with Marge Piercy in the 2021 New England Jewish Poetry Festival and won the Women Composers Festival of Hartford's 2020 call for scores. She is working on her first chapbook.

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Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
Ariel Friedman


after the painting of the same name by Thomas Cole, 1828



And every night my father sang to me:

blessed are you, Adonai our God, ruler

of the Universe, someone to keep

me safe from the crawling

shadows, from the spiders on the ceiling.


Blessed are you, God. I thought it too

until I realized it wasn’t God

keeping me safe but the number of times

I washed my hands, the way I aligned

my grey slippers at the foot of the bed.


Then the rabbit died, and then the cat,

and I learned at summer camp

that not even the sun would last

forever, this knowledge an animal—

me between its teeth.


And then there was nothing

keeping me safe: not the lists I kept,

not my sister’s notes under the door

or our secret bedtime handshake,

not even the voice of my own father


singing to me night after night

shema yisrael adonai elohenu—

Listen, he said, listen and I tried

but all I heard was the silence

where the cat used to purr.