Friday, April 29, 2011


This morning I was on time and my ride was running ten minutes late. In those ten minutes I took a picture (look up). Sometimes we travel and find grandeur and forget the beauty we have - literally - in our own backyard. In those ten minutes I wrote a poem (look down).

Today I bought horoscopes for the dead:

What She Said

by Billy Collins

When he told me he expected me to pay for dinner,
I was like give me a break.

I was not the exact equivalent of give me a break.
I was just similar to give me a break.

As I said, I was like give me a break.

I would love to tell you
how I was able to resemble give me a break
without actually being identical to give me a break,

but all I can say is that I sensed
a similarity between me and give me a break.

And that was close enough
at that point in the evening

even if it meant I would fall short
of standing up from the table and screaming
give me a break,

for God's sake will you please give me a break?!

No, for that moment
with the rain streaking the restaurant windows
and the waiter approaching,

I felt the most I could be was like

to a certain degree

give me a break.

(You can hear a wonderful reading of the this poem, by Garrison Keilor, here.)

Pesach lingers. Erica Brown wrote a beautiful Torah piece in last week's Jewish Week about layers of memory. She makes it look easy. She compares Dovd HMelech's song in Shmuel II, chapter 22, the Haftorah reading on the seventh day of Pesach with the Az Yashir. An interesting common denominator appears when looking at these two victory songs. They each speak in water terms. David HaMelech is arguably evoking the terminology of the Jews who were saved at sea, as he speaks of being engulfed, feeling like he would drown - till he was saved by G-d. Both of these successes began with stepping up despite the fear. David stood up to Goliath because he believed - against all odds that he could. The Jews stepped into the sea and then walls of water formed. Michael Fishbane writes that, "this layering of memory is an essential feature of Jewish cultural consciousness." The similarity of experienced events and emotions continues to propel us and keep us alive throughout Jewish history. Brown adds that "creating acts of meaning in the present is only possible because of the impossibility of our Jewish past... On Passover, we affirm the impossible and, thereby, create infinite possibilities for future generations." Please G-d.


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