Sunday, December 6, 2015

Harvey Shapiro: "Psalm"

I am still on a rooftop in Brooklyn
on your holy day. The harbor is before me,
Governor’s Island, Verrazano Bridge
and the Narrows. I keep in my head
what Rabbi Nachmann said about the world
being a narrow bridge and that the important thing
is not to be afraid. So on this day
I bless my mother and father, that they be
not fearful where they wander. And I
ask you to bless them and before you
close your Book of Life, your Sefer Hachayim,
remember that I always praised your world
and your splendor and that my tongue
tried to say your name on Court Street in Brooklyn.
Take me safely through the Narrows to the sea.

"Psalm" by Harvey Shapiro. Text as published in A Momentary Glory: Last Poems, edited by Norman Finkelstein (Wesleyan University Press, 2014).

Curator's note: Tonight begins the Jewish observance of Hannukah. Many thanks to Anita Goldstein and Chana Bloch for suggesting this poem, which, though written for Yom Kippur, certainly seems apt.

Art credit: Untitled image by unknown photographer.

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