by Betti E. Kahn
"Did Miriam Stutter Too?"
We do not know, do not hear her voice
alongside her brother.
We do know they quarreled
at Meribah—and the waters healed.
Did she wear a veil too, as Moses
placed upon himself after he heard God?
Was silence her friend? Did it dance
out of her, unannounced
timbrel, pronouncing freedom with each step?
The jelly fish and its late summer sting
I try to avoid tells me with its tangled
tentacles we’re not meant to penetrate
all transparencies can not always see
when death’s innards reveal themselves
dare to dance before my view
Nothing to do but swim swim and play
Taste the salt wish
Haven’t the waves always veered me from
a piercing? If the slant among the seaweed
strikes my dreams
if I do not know believe that I am quick
then cursed self-cursed not only stung
but swallowed by worse.
"She Was Grandmother, Bubbi"
the first time she heard
the piercing rhythm of the shofar— from her own lips.
Not an intake of breath, but a wonderful
exhale, baby-learning-language (a raspberry) release;
the aperture, not surrounding her lips. Mouth,
plainly focused on the small open space of ram’s horn.
A meeting of holy air, relaxed into the abundant
curve, that spirals outward again
to change silence to sound.
Tekia, – – – Truah——-
The blasts broken up, divided.
Their meaning, ancient code.
We’re born in light. We grow up. We die. Do we become
all our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters—all angels
now? Tekia Gedola——We go out grandly.
The middle breaths—the ra-ta-ta-ta of our days,
its desire, gain, loss, hate, love—open, close.
When night comes, we let go, grow into this life, the next.
The song within us—all the breath we need—and more.