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  • Elul, and: These Fires
  • Hila Ratzabi

Elul

Month of waiting    For the rustling sound

Of God’s bare feet in the grass    In the field I have chosen

As the earth prepares    To birth itself again

I thought there was something    I was supposed to do to make that happen

The hawk only stayed an instant    While the rest of the birds kept ticking

And it turns out    I don’t have to do anything

The lake lives for its ripples    The wind licks the mirror [End Page 106]

God has already come     And gone and I was busy

Shaping my mouth     To a sound

God is a placeholder     For God, holding

This place, makom ha-olam    Today I feel [fill in the blank]

Well, that’s how I feel    That’s where the branches parted

And the hawk turned back    To the business of sifting wind [End Page 107]

THESE FIRES

We count the starsfrom within the small framesof our bodies.

Heads proppedagainst pillows on the terrace,the three of us: one plus two

who passed through me to landhere on earth with a thud,a cry, a gasp, breath.

Oh, breath. Sudden gulpof air, lungs tetheredto elements.

Bodies brokenfrom my body,shattered glass.

Our fingers pointto that dome of darknessfrom which we came

speckled with the ash of burning gases,fires of furyor love or what can’t [End Page 108]

be named because the darkmust hold its secret tight.The way I hold you.

We’re here, aren’t we?Leashed to earth no matterhow far we run.

So I must teach youwhat I haven’t learned myself:to be body-bound.

I must teach you to count on your fingerswhat I know to be infinite: those firesup there. These fires down here.

I must teach youhow to be unboundwhen the time comes.

How to dissipate (though I don’tknow how), to unravelback into light. [End Page 109]

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