Not in This World or in the Next

I see before me faces of sacred texts. Rabbi Kami Knapp Schechter
Brother, dusk came on,
sky dimmed its screen
of light. You were visiting
for three days, three nights,
entering the rhythms
of our house.
Your niece and nephew launched
into arms, raced through grass.
Such heart-stopping green, visible
only in early spring,
before branches fill in, dip down.
I was pregnant again,
drowsy in a lawn chair.
The children were finally in bed
and I coveted sleep, rose
to leave. But you touched my arm,
asked, What’s the rush?
Like a chord
I’d never heard.
There’s a prayer on leaving
the study of text, a tractate or psalm,
Hadran Alakh.
We will return to you,
you will return to us.
It’s never complete, this learning
what’s sacred.
That night I stayed with you,
gazing at unfinished projects:
chipped stone path
that needed replacing,
rusty slide, patch of weeds
strewn with balls and bikes.
I sighed. You laughed, coughed.
Coughed again,
said you were glad
I seemed content.
We will not forget,
you will not forget us.
The lawn dulled
as blue seeped down
from sky, which dimmed.
I can’t remember all we said
in those blue hours.
But we snickered
and sighed, as if still
in the world of our childhood.
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