Poems & Essays

22 Apr

Three Months after Abigail’s Bat Mitzvah

Toddlers to Teens No Response

Three months after Abigail’s bat mitzvah
I return to Jerusalem
A tourist
Twenty years after the Tchernichovsky Street apartment
A summer of folding and bending Hebrew poems
Until they sit up on a page in proper English
The scent of Torah rinsed from their syllables
Capital letters and vowels
Nouns and verbs neatly laid out
Now moving from left to right
Like fish swimming away from home

Three months after Abigail’s bat mitzvah
I return to Jerusalem
A tourist
Twenty-four years after Palmach Street
A gentle road of hibiscus and laundromats
A cheerful walk to class under the hard sun
A strike force of grandmas scolding my wet hair
Slippery Jerusalem stone after drenching rains

Three months after Abigail’s bat mitzvah
I return to Jerusalem
A tourist
Twenty-seven years after the Mount Scopus Ulpan
Declining, conjugating, memorizing
To want, to need, to have to
Slipping down Masada, knee sticky with red blood
The deep purple antiseptic a thistle on dusty rocks
On Jerusalem streets, a cat we call Shlomozion Hamalka trails us

Three months after Abigail’s bat mitzvah
I return to Jerusalem
A tourist
A stray cat greets me like an old friend
This ancient cat
Daughter of the daughter remembers
Morning hot pita and cottage cheese
Visiting birds resting on balconies
Allergic, swollen eyes on Tu B’shevat- the birthday of the trees

Hebrew returns to me like the cat
Light in its green eyes
Three months after Abigail’s bat mitzvah
Hebrew words coating her tongue
Like the Supersol milk chocolate coated raisins and walnuts
The cat leans in to her leg now
Daughter of the daughter.

 

 

 

Raised in Norfolk, Virginia, Sharon Forman is a reform rabbi who has worked in the field of Jewish education for twenty-five years. She is the author of Honest Answers to Your Child’s Jewish Questions (URJ, 2006) a chapter on the connection between Judaism and breastfeeding in The Sacred Encounter (CCAR Press, 2014), and most recently The Baseball Haggadah: A Festival of Freedom and Springtime in 15 Innings (2015). She has had numerous essays published and posted in Kveller, Literary Mama, Mothers Always Write, Mamalode, Lilith.org, The Times of Israel, ReformJudaism.org, The Bitter Southerner, Parent.co/Motherly, Coffee+Crumbs, Moms and Stories, the Write Launch, read650, and Grown and Flown.

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