High Holiday Meditation on the 47th Anniversary of My Father’s Death

By Betti Kahn

When I feel most broken

pulled apart     when every door unhinged

is opened     but feels closed

for too many paths there   then it is

prayer    with past intention    wells up


and present air so bright    it nearly

suffocates    with future deep

and full beyond knowing.    The spinning

on the head of a pin    who is angel    real?

All the company there    here    messengers


to and for each other?    My dearest

friends    closest-to-heart    flailing as I

in cavernous winds    bodies  ailing

strewn right and left    and it is

somewhere decreed    not by punishing

judge    but somehow    maybe just the air


we breathe    Who shall live and who shall

die?    Weep and laugh with the same sigh

at the take and give life brings    whispers

sings    shouts in the ear    and hear

try to hear    can’t help but hear    wisdom.


Gasp for    try and grasp without grasping

all the syllables    all the hip hop un-

understood    the bass too loud    the

thumping in my chest I want a rest from

not permanently though.    I want to hear


the words    get their gist.    TV    internet 

fireflies        Torah’s music    all electric pulse

saving me    from ann-I-hilation?

Here am I    waiting.

I am here.


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