Tag : God

July 27, 2020 by

Poem: “Playing Scrabble With God”

Last Thursday

God and I were playing Scrabble

eating peanut brittle and listening to Joni Mitchell.

I used all my letters


and I saw a side of God

I’d never seen before.

First he insisted that whistles has no ‘h’

which is utter bullshit.

Then he started to pout

complaining all his letters were vowels.

And in a flurry of frustrated gestures

He “accidentally” knocked the board over

with such force that tiles flew

to the four corners of the room.


“Oh please” I said. “It’s just a game of Scrabble.”

And that’s when I saw his eyes fill.

“What is it, God? Why are you upset?”


“I’m losing my ability to spell,” he said.

“The letters are confusing and I’m not even sure

what some of them are.”


I went limp. If God couldn’t recognize letters

what else was out of his grasp.


And then God asked me to shepherd him down the stairs.


“But you are supposed to guide me,” I said.

“Things change,” he sighed.


Poetry editor Alicia Ostriker comments:

This is almost two poems in one. At first it seems to belong to a common genre of Jewish writing where we playfully (or not so playfully) question God. Jews have been doing this since the Book of Job. Gradually we realize that the “God” here is probably the speaker’s father or grandfather—a figure both of authority and comfort, who now is, in the popular phrase, “losing it”—Losing not only at Scrabble, but becoming mentally and physically frail. How do we cope when this happens to those we love? And can we cope if the Jewish God, too, is losing his grasp—his grasp even of his own scripture? Suddenly a domestic anecdote becomes metaphysical, and a game is more than a game.

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January 10, 2019 by

“And With All Your Might”

Screen Shot 2019-01-09 at 3.19.57 PM“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” —Deuteronomy 6:5

It’s not the three miscarriages that have distanced me from God; the three miscarriages make me wish I weren’t already so distant. It’s hard to remember that the wheels of my traditionally observant Jewish life were set spinning 14 years ago by an intense sense of meaning and flow, that God’s presence in my life was a gift to be unwrapped in eager breaths. At the time, I was underfed and scrappy, shelving books at work while my former classmates returned to NYU as sophomores, but instead of anger at my circumstances I experienced delight. When the delight faded, when I felt too tired and broke and lonely, I leaned on the backup power of my own resolve. “This is the path you chose,” I reminded myself. “So walk it.”

The previous fall, as a freshman, was my first time (that I knew of ) in a synagogue. I went with a friend to Rosh Hashanah services in the city. The singing was in Hebrew, but even the English side of the prayer book felt foreign, with lots of language about kingship and judgment. My friend and I left early. No one said goodbye. My Jewish identity remained what it had been during my secular childhood in Houston: mine only in name. But over the summer, something began to shift. It started with a boy I had a crush on. One night, I stayed with a friend in Manhattan, and my whole body buzzed with a sense of the boy’s presence and levitra. He felt so close; I was certain I would see him. I left my friend’s apartment and started walking south on Fifth Avenue. I heard jazz floating from Washington Square Park, and walked towards the music. At the fountain in the middle of the park, there he was. Of course he was there. We sat side by side and I barely spoke, overwhelmed by what had happened.

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