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I write, mostly to keep my head from exploding. It threatens to do that a lot. My blog is the pixelated version of all the voices in my head. I tend to dive into what connects me to God, my community, my family and my doubt. I do a lot of searching, not as much finding. I’m good with that. I have learned, finally, to live comfortably in the gray. In the meantime, I wrestle with God, and my doubt and my joy.

Monday, November 10, 2014

How Could I Be?

Week Two as Poet in Residence at Temple Beth El, Northbrook, Illinois.

This week's lesson plan was scrapped and changed, just before class, when I remembered that today is the 76th anniversary of Kristalnacht. We talked about poetry and music and prayer - how they're connected; how they crystallize and distill important ideas and feelings and images into their essence; how they create and help shape holy moments.

The discussion was lively and loud; they're seventh graders. Then we read Anna Sotto's stunningly brilliant poem, A6893. Its power is in its simplicity and spareness. After talking about the poem, its meaning, its intent, its feeling and voice, I asked the class to write their own, with the prompts "What, if removed, would not make you cry;" and "What, if taken away, would make you weep?"

They wrote, and they wrote, and they wrote. Fourteen seventh graders put pen to paper and peered inside, to answer the call - and create a holy moment for themselves. They were brilliant and funny and deep and not. I cannot wait to compile all of their writing, as we continue to write The Book of Micah: Justice, Mercy and God. Me, being who I am, accepted the obligation of the assignment as well. While I cannot (yet) share their beautiful poems, here is mine, with a debt of gratitude to Ms. Sotto, and her words of beauty and loss.

I have
a lot of
Some of it -
too much of It -
Spills and tangles
and topples
in its wondrous
But Oh!
It is grand
It sparkles
and rattles and comforts and warms
And when I spy it,
When I feel it
Or find it;
When I can touch it
or fondle it;
When I feel it,
As it runs through my fingers
Or wraps around my heart,
I think
In a sudden burst:
I am happy.
I think.
That's it; I think:
I am happy.

And if, by chance
or design
or weirdly odd happenstance,
All that Stuff went away -
I would be
I think.
I think.
I would miss it,
That stuff of mine,
But I would get
More Stuff -
More sparkly,
and comforting
and glorious

But my heart;
my soul;
my stories;
my name.

How could I be -
Who would I be -
If they were stolen
To be replaced only by
a Number?

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