Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine

Tree of Life

by Karen Webber

In this safe and sacred space,

Mah Tovu harmonies collide.

He shoots the greeters

first. He doesn’t need a prayerbook.

The rabbi, hearing pa pa pa from two flights down,

assumes the coat racks have fallen.

From the sanctuary,

she remembers the starting gun

from her old track meets

and takes off

heels clicking

down the back stairs,

past the cloakroom, the darkened library,

the deserted lavatories,

past the social hall’s varnished floorboards,

witness to purimshpiels, Bat Mitzvahs,

the occasional deli night. Finally,

the kitchen,

the utility closet at the back

with its industrial brooms,

where she locks herself,

and, under her breath, sings

a song without words

*Mah Tovu is the first sung prayer in the service
praising the loveliness of our worship space.