I am forever grateful to my mother
for prayers she uttered alongside
our breakfront, for the yearly
metamorphosis of this
bulky red-brown furniture
into ark and tabernacle.
I am grateful for how she
helped blessings rain down
on its contents, a hardcover
War and Peace no one read,
a chrome serving tray
meant for show,
a miniature torah scroll from
one of the bar-mitzvah cakes,
all visible behind the glass,
baseball card sets, a shoebox
full of family photos stored below,
behind one of its doors,
linen tablecloths and expensive
silverware kept in the drawers.
I am thankful for how she dovined*
before this tall, unsecured
ceilingscraper on the High Holy Days,
how it shook when she rocked
back and forth in awe, how
in a housedress, she turned
a circle of spotless living room
carpet into sacred ground
*Rocking back and forth in prayer
Curator's note: I offer this poem to mark the Jewish observance of Rosh Hashanah, which begins this evening. My thanks to Rabbi Jill Zimmerman of the Jewish Mindfulness Network for both helping me understand this poem better and recommending the companion art.
Art credit: "A Jewish woman praying," image by unknown photographer.