Category Archives: Kabbalah

Starfish and Stars

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By Dana Janine Diamond                         

My child has been ill

and like the restless harbor

that oscillates

and osculates

there is a deep mystery

that awaits

to be revealed

while we gaze

out to sea

count starfish

and hours

from Chanukah nights

to Purim treats

to Passover days

of sustenance

not fully formed,

wondering why

this difference

where are we going

how will we get there

when will we get there

like children

needing to know.

We sea the stars

keep the moon

in our view

from sliver to whole

and again.

So much cleaning to do

before we ascend,

before we grow,

I ask, is He asking

for her to be well?

Is She praying

for her to have health

and joy and light

and the sweet, slow-made candy

of life?

COPYRIGHT 2012 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

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False Imprisonment

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 by Dana Janine Diamond 

We ask for Mercy

extending forgiveness

like an old tree branch

bending toward the river,

leaves flowing by

currents confusing,

we know it’s our only  prospect

at getting to Grace.

We beg for clemency

agreeing that decency

is the salient, saving factor

in our long climb out

the chance we took

to escape from our own

little prisons,

we ran, we crawled,

we leaped, we sang,

unsure if the doors clanging

shut – would signal

our capture

or release.

At the break of day

the whispered question

“Do I regret…?”

“We’ll see…”

the non-committal response.

Breaking free

was a gambit

which didn’t work

as long as we really longed

to return

Lying awake at night

hearing the message

the echo of keys

the crush of the heart,

other sighs,

in this day,

the bar is set

just a little too wide

it’s all too effortless

to slip in and out

if I had known

how easily you would give me up

I would not have joined in

this fickle crime.

I read random books

eat tasteless food

whether it’s raining

or hot as hell

outside

I am here

remembering the sound of you,

the catch in your voice,

like the turn of the tumbler

the whoosh

of the picked lock

I am here

waiting inside.

My cells

carry the memory

of screams and howls

and mass cheers

for public tortures and executions

for bodies twisted into hideous shapes

for emaciated sticks passing for human beings

for burned homes and gassed bodies

for uniformed men torching

our place of worship, our stores,

our books.

stealing silver and jewels,

terrorizing our children and mothers,

taking our boys to drown

tearing apart families

just as easily as limbs

scattering us to the winds

and ashes.

I can smell the stench of charred skin

feel the pain of the missing layer,

the scars of sin.

There is a Jewish proverb,

“What soap is to the body,

tears are for the soul.”

Shower, shower, shower.

Oh, my G-d, I cry out to you,

you have given me a gifted life,

a life of privilege

I have always known who I am

when I was interrupted

on a busy street, on a busy, cold day,

from walking a quick pace toward my neighborhood,

wearing my grandmother’s fur coat,

over (my own) mini-dress and fishnets,

I was asked,

“Excuse me, are you Jewish?”

I came to a standstill.

Strangers rushed past

as we stood on the sidewalk,

facing each other,

no one seemed to spare us a glance,

or paused to witness

the internal commotion.

“What’s it to you?” I sassed.

“The Rebbe wants to wish you

a Happy Chanukah!”

and with that, this young rabbi,

in black hat and garb,

whisked out a black rectangular box,

with a gold tin menorah inside.

I could not and did not hide my delight.

I rushed on, looking forward

to the nights ahead

of fierce light.

How fortunate my life is,

that I am handed a tin, gold menorah,

not a tin, gold Star of David.

Yet years would pass,

‘til I would find my way home.

It’s been ages

since I first embraced You.

been loved and teased,

held peals of laughter in my palms,

been gathered up in warm arms,

if I listen to the soft persuasion

of beguiling voices,

it is my freedom

that opens the door

to this false prison.

Still, even moving sideways

lying down, hiding, writing,

talking, we stumble forward praying,

getting to Grace.

So far, my heart beats strong,

resisting beatings and broken bones,

nerve damage,

all inclement weather.

I do not give up on You,

You do not give up on me.

COPYRIGHT 2011 Dana Janine Diamond  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

Unspoken

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          by Dana Janine Diamond 

In our time

of rejoicing

I sit alone

waiting in the sukkah

as light touches darkness

I have no guests

they have not come

for I have no husband to entertain them.

At this feast

I partake in luxury

every spice lingering

on my tongue

not wishing to be left

alone,

alas,

the taste is wasted, waiting

to amass

the wine and grain

fallen on the wayside,

for I have no husband to tend to,

ask,

“how does this taste to you?”

I sit alone

as still as possible

strive to sense

an embrace

as distant as the stars

glimmering above the

willows of the brook,

I rest in this sukkah,

hoping you took,

the long but short way,

that you are flying even now

in a carriage of peasant descent

through the enceinte woods

led by fearless one-toed horses

the Baal Shem Tov

whispered, their quivering ears alert

gracefully persuaded to traverse

all space and time,

you arrive at last,

satchels of endless stories in tow.

So who will come

while I sojourn,

who dares to visit

the bleak, solitary hut?

The angels are floating on myrtle,

murmuring inpenetrable names,

like husks of corn,

growing side by side,

the men, they have abandoned me,

as maise to a maze

by death or wish

they pass me by,

no glass raised

or broken.

Sarah, Miriam, Devorah,

Chana, Huldah, Avigail,

and Queen Esther,

will you be my ushpizot?

Will you divine the dream for me?

I will serve as your retinue,

awaiting to begin anew.

We are bound together

like the scent of lemons

to a sweet verbena tree,

yearning to be rooted,

to withstand the coming wind,

I lift my hands to draw

circles of blessings

in to my body

feel no heat,

nor coolness of air,

barely hear

the night’s symphony song,

for I have no husband to sing to.

COPYRIGHT 2011 Dana Janine Diamond  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

Her Laughter

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     by  Dana Janine Diamond 

Shabbat is half a day away and the full moon is shining brightly, directly above our window. God is smiling on us as Fall turns to winter and we are floating like the harvest colored leaf, up to the light in the sky. Her laughter is in my heart. She laughed within herself. Was this her brilliance, her modesty? We are the deep, the divide, the mystery of mysteries. And our laughter, what do You and you make of this? Is our sweeping sound our deepest truth?  An expression of our awe, humility, incredulity, the foreshadow of the pain of birth. A deep inhale in preparation for what comes next.

Our mother wants us to laugh, our mother wishes us joy before the day begins. There’s no man in the moon, silly story. It’s our mother, the gentle tug of the tides, bathing us in laughter. It’s within her and within us. So much we must keep to ourselves, we all live in secrets but this, this, this, we can share. She is sharing her moment with God, she brought the Almighty humor into the world with her laughter, and so begins the birth of joy. The cachinnation that births a nation. We celebrate, we light the light, as she foretold the parting of the waters, in her dialogue with God. The ironic, iconic, twist and we’ve come through, the bellows of her laughter echoing in our memories, the chord that ties us to her love.

Even late into the day, at the end of the night, we still hear her after all this time, this waiting. Even as the leaf leaves the tree in the lighter light, carried away in the arms of the wind, and snow readies itself to purify. Even now, it is not too late. Rejoicing waits for us. And the muse of amusement is missing us. We pine, we long to fly up to the moon. And the laughter, the laughter, the laughter is our knowledge, our deepest expression of our truest truth. And she laughed, for she understood more of God, she knew Avraham and the world a bit better. The infinite howl, the chortle, guffaw, the giggle, mirth, the peals, the glee and the great Tee Hee! The insight, this is her gift, a mother’s gift that precludes all words. So we know, once and for all, we are born in joy by the light of the moon and all the stars in the sky.

detail from The Wedding Candles by Marc Chagall, 1945

Detail of The Wedding Candles by Marc Chagall, 1945

COPYRIGHT 2011 Dana Janine Diamond  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com