Dinah’s Month

Adar I, the leap month of the Jewish calendar, falls just before Adar II, the final month, during which Purim is celebrated. Adar I is added in certain years in order to keep lunar time balanced with solar time, so that holidays fall in their proper seasons, yet the months always correspond to the moon’s phases. A year with a leap month is called “pregnant.” Tradition holds that the twelve months of the year represent the twelve tribes of Israel, Jacob’s sons. Adar I, the thirteenth month, represents Dinah, Jacob’s daughter.

Adar Aleph is the month most often missing
as you are most often missing, your story
lacking like a year without a season,
your life events reduced
to a syrup of rape and vengeance,
a place to pour out anger.

Did you love the man the way some say you did
or is that too a lie, a mask for what really happened?
Was there something else you loved
An idea, a mother, a scent, a woman with black hair,
a crescent moon, an orange, an amulet,
or a pearl a trader carried to you on his camel?
Could anyone among the ragged wanderers
who bore your thousand names across six continents
put a face to you?

Have we tried enough to find one thread of your garment
The shawl Sarah left with her sister
saying she wouldn’t wear it now that she was a pioneer
that Rebekah brought to wrap herself in the fragrance of the old land,
the one Leah swathed herself in like a laundered self,
The soft old shawl maybe you loved, though it did not save you?

We have sewed you into the calendar, though we see you
sporadically, when the year spreads open its days like legs
and the fog lifts from our own ancient bodies.

You are our leap month
Our years are pregnant with you,
Dinah daughter
of a woman veiled by darkness, daughter
of a woman veiled by memory,
daughter of a woman veiled by time.

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