The Lilith Blog 1 of 2

May 3, 2016 by

Kaddish for My Mother, Internet Archive Book Images, Internet Archive Book Images

Sarah Sarah shtetl child
of peddler Sholem, sheytled Mintzi, 
you bore the griefs of history to Brooklyn,
hungry for the taste of liberation
in the cage of a tenement
where you sang your exiled songs.

Sarah of dark curls and heart-shaped face, 
what a beauty you were, girl of seventeen 
smiling under April blossom trees
with Sam, namesake of your father;
in you he saw the Medina’s promised gold. 

The litany of your three day labor, 
your apocalyptic screams 
while Bubbe Sonia muttered in his ear
bad luck to kiss before a birth.
His male hesitation
his fear of uncleanness
The kiss too late.

I was yours, Mother. 
Friday sundowns you lit the Sabbath candles, 
chanted the prayers with covered head,
cupped fingers beseeching the flame 
while I gazed speechless
aching with the sudden beauty that lit the kitchen
to a temple.

Bungalow summers, blackberry picking days, 
nights when I lay my head in your lap 
feeling your heart beat, your blood flow,
as you sang with the women Yiddish songs 
of struggle and yearning.

I’m older now than you would ever be;
sickness stopped your May Day marches
stilled your voice,
stilled your mind.
Sleep now, bride, in the final bed. 
Now you are one with your dreams,
perfect, your cells in cosmic silence,
clear and light, an open channel 
for the simple forms of nature to pass through
and claim you as their own.

My daughter sings your songs,
keeps the funny dolls you made
with shaky button eyes,
and I, I keep a rain-cap,
travel-kit, gifts you gave, 
good for one on a journey. 
You knew.

I journeyed to your grave again
sat in the quiet of earth and stones 
saw a sparrow land 
where you lie as if flying  
from the blossom trees of Brooklyn.