by David Adès
I stood in Synagogue on Yom Kippur,
solitary amidst an unfamiliar congregation,
looking for ritual, looking for uplift,
looking for the repetition of words and prayers
to enjoin me to become better in this world,
to resume the constant struggle with myself,
and though no vision appeared before me,
though I heard no divine voice,
a surreal message was delivered
by way of lumps beneath my feet,
unevenness, as if the ground was broken,
as if someone had left clods under the carpet.
I moved my feet to feel things not quite right,
a dissipated sureness, a lost balance – and bending
down to see, discovered both shoes disintegrating,
clumps of heel and sole upon the floor,
shoes barely worn and previously intact,
falling apart of their own accord,
both at the same moment,
as I stood in Synagogue on Yom Kippur.
What message was this? Had I been judged,
found wanting? Was I not to be inscribed
in the Book of Life before it was sealed?
Unease filled me, foreboding, the gulf
between message and meaning a place to fall into
and never return, a universe of possibilities,
so many distant lights spread out across
the endless dark, and me, clinging tightly
to this world, my uncertain place, not ready
to depart, not ready for the world to come.