Monday, June 30, 2008

Earthy Smell, for My Children

You have to watch the pansies. Give them
too much water, and they will rebel.
Lovely young faces turn puckered and old;
green stems turn yellow and uproot at a touch.
How much is too much? A sudden torrential
rain, of course, is disaster, and
even the well-meaning extra squirt of hose
by a friendly caretaker bloats the bowl
in which incredible beauty soon will fade.
So I take the pansies into my hall
before a rain, along with the delicate pinks
that have, to my knowledge, no name. They
stay overnight, sometimes, and then the
vestibule takes on the earthy smell
of out-of-doors, a smell that can be easily
confused with mildew and mold. Actually
it is the sign of salvation in progress,
for the next day the pots will be returned
to their spots in the sun.... It is always
easy to find analogy: our beau-
tiful faces that wrinkle with pride,
which we just cannot relinquish in the
light of day. So we take ourselves inside,
sleep perhaps a little too much and allow
our minds to return us to the people we are.

Love heals: the piercing of hearts that taints
the sunlight and turns it into dotted yolk
is the stuff of slime. So now it is time
to move back outside and learn to weather
with mercy and grace and lack of shame
what next time will be just a bit of rain.

ellen moser

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Graduation(s) at Nefesh

June 2005: Greg drops me off on Coney Island Avenue, not far from the Tree of Life Synagogue. I know without giving it any thought that he will pick me up at the same gas station when graduation is over. Of course, he does. I feel married and cared about, if only for transportation purposes.

June 2006: Graduation falls on Father's Day, and Jeff accompanies me. In my heart I am hoping that the uplifting ceremony and emphasis on Hashem will help him forget a bit that this is his first Father's Day without his Dad. Before he goes, he calls his father; there are a few tears, which I am sure he prefers I had not seen. The slide show at graduation is able to be shown because Jeff fixes the machine just on time. I am very proud.

June 2007: I am the proudest person in the synagogue! I have survived a craniotomy, a nephrectomy and 30 sessions of radiation! Sitting with me are my most favorite people in the world: Jeff, Sheryl and Sherry. Sheryl remarks that she will have to cover her head when she attends next year's graduation.

June 2008: I am alone and bereft this year. As part of the ceremony, one girl praises all the teachers in a very uplifting way. When she gets to my name, she thanks me for teaching her class "to appreciate everything." (The snap of recognition comes easily; I think to myself: This is how I raised Fred and Jeff.) Mrs. Newhouse comments that the name Esther means"hidden, shy, unknown, a queen; the name Yehuda," she gratuitously mentions, means, "thank you, Hashem, for giving me this wonderful child."

Be well, Yehuda.