The Vigil

a photo of many candles
My stomach doesn’t allow me
to look at their faces:
the gurgling bald baby,
the handsome white-haired dark-skinned
man, exact same age as me.
Leafing through the posters, safety
pin open, I must choose
I decide on a female
to rest on my breasts.
She’s 19 years old,
younger than my children,
older than my grandchildren,
Noa Marciano: her grad cap tilted rakishly,
crooked smile framed by
luscious wavy dark hair.
How proud her parents must’ve been that
day, as she came strolling to her seat, a
rolled diploma in hand.
I too felt proud of this young
woman bursting with knowledge
at the threshold of her life
laying quietly on my chest,
as though she is
of me.
As we navigated through the crowds
holding candles, singing Oseh Shalom
Bimromav, bring peace in our days,
she and I chatted,
our bond tenuous and fragile,
me wishing to wrap her
in a protective cloak,
to whisk her from danger or
to render her invisible
to those who hold her captive.
Her whispers are infused with silence and the words
to the song all of life is a very narrow bridge.
If they can withstand captivity,
I tell my stomach sternly,
surely you can permit me to parade
with her photo pinned to my jacket
begging for mercy
from the world,
from the G-d of our people, from my own G-d.
Oh Noa! The rush of communal prayers,
lit by candles, floating among the red-hearted
balloons, were not enough.
I didn’t know until this morning’s news
my protective cloak
was made of paper,
torn easily
and swiftly in their hands.
May your parents be comforted
by the sweet and tender beauty in
your eyes.
May your memory be for a
blessing for us all.

Dedicated to Noa Marciano who was discovered murdered at Al-Shifa Hospital Gaza November 20th.


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