September 14, 2015 by Jaimie Gusman
The Head of the New Year
Today is the second day of Rosh Hashanah, and while I’m not going to a synagogue (it’s been years since I’ve stepped foot in one), I’ve been feeling like participating in the ritual of this holiday. Maybe it’s because the baby is on the way and because Rosh Hashanah has never been about prayer for me, but about family.
Yesterday, my husband baked a challah. I cut apples and we dipped them in honey. I printed out prayers I no longer know by heart, and we recited them in English. I chanted the Hebrew. We lit tea lights, did not drink wine.
This morning I woke up, not to the sounding of the shofar, but to roosters. I am supposed to be planning lessons for my week or writing copy for a client. But, as usual, when I am supposed to be working, I want to to be writing:
Rosh Hashanah, 2015
Why the Wind
to a universe of soldiers?
Why Time, coldblood
streams of loss,
a thousand riverbeds?
A circle inscribes my heart.
your name swims in this circle
before you are born, before the world
swallows you like a calf.
the coffee, your hands
folded over like a proper lunch.
In the backseat of the car:
Spiritual Advisor—a 350 page
pamphlet, a Jewish star made of beads,
maybe some other texts:
Friedmann, Levinas, Celan.
A box of Oreos, empty.
I’ve been good this year
What does it mean to be homeless.
Without a shield from the sun,
the tropical rains, sandbeaten winds?
Are we now Time?
Is this Remembrance, Salvation?
Whose hands do we hold in Celebration?
Words are just, the letters
curve in to embrace us,
keep our secrets—hostage, cuffs.
This is the Head of the new year.
I ask this intellect,
where is your face?
This is not the day to ask questions.
But this is our condition!
A circle, a life, a name composed of serif.
I tell my womb, this day
you cannot see is sweet.
Who shall live? Who shall die?
Who will round out their tongues?
Who will carry powder on their hands?
Who will wash the shores with blood?
This is my sin.
The truth: I cannot hear
But the stream, yes.
But the earth falling apart, yes.
The thunder’s blessing, yes.
When I sing, when I type
I feel the small kicks, her name.
I pray: Write her, God.