Mizmor L'David Anthology 

 


Poetica Magazine, Contemporary Jewish Writing


Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the past Kansas Poet Laureate and the author or editor of 24 books, including the recent How Time Moves (poetry). She leads writing workshops widely, and provides coaching and consulting services on writing, creativity, and right livelihood. http://carynmirriamgoldberg.com

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Havdalah
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg


What is time to time? At the end

of Shabbat, on our pandemic porch

we Zoom into the Havdalah service,

the prayers opening the door of the new week,

which always starts in the dark


like in that Wisconsin synagogue,

the only light the braided candle

I held carefully, all the strands

merging into a wide flame

as we sang, “Li li li li li li li,”

and cried, because just that morning

in Pittsburgh, people like us

were prayer-ripped from this life


that also tumbles backwards where

I was once a teenage girl up all night

in a New Jersey temple with the others,

telling our Havdalah stories of not being

wanted, our slim arms stretched to grasp

the furtherest shoulders on the shore, singing

as we passed the spice box, a wooden bird

with pinholes for cinnamon and cloves,

which smell like time because they’re made

of wind, rain, all the old ways we’re lost or held,


like right now when I’m huddled outside

with my husband and son, and also inside

this computer screen with all the others

singing across rooms as we extinguish

our Havdalah candles in cups of wine

to make that sound that still surprises us

of fire giving itself up so something

we have no name for can begin again.