Shavuot: One Voice

a child's feet
Where you go, I will go, the young woman said. From the narrow place
through the pain of mourning, with the widow she walked. See them
in your mind’s eye: holding hands, drawing each other forward,
testing the depth of rivers to cross, washing each other’s wounds.
Where you go, I will go, I told my small sons. We crawled into the dim
cave, a tunnel, a tight space under old rocks. Flexible and excited
they hurried forward, happy to explore, following a marked path,
and the smoothed and curved cave walls echoed their joy.
But I am not small (though I was thinner then) and I do not bend
the way a child can—and there came a moment when the stones
cramped my ribs as I lay between them, their tight grip unyielding.
To go forward meant to exhale, hold no breath, press breathless.
Where you go, I will go. Fear made the lights around me flicker.
My emptied chest slowed my feet. What if I cannot pass? What if
I cannot follow? Terror is its own narrow place. I only know now
that I needed to be with them, that I promised to be there.
Someplace at the far side of the tunnel, the muddy narrow path
rose with the land, and light, dear sweet sunlight, struck my eyes,
which must be why it looked like I was weeping. The boys laughed
as they rolled on the grass. “Mom, what took you so long?”
What will I bring to the altar now? That first deep breath, freed
from oppression. That long gratitude. That voice within: Where you go,
I will go. That call beyond the darkness: Breathe. Push. Breathe.
Here is what we know we need: Breath. And each other.


Art by the poet

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