Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine

The Message, Pittsburgh 2013

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.