“On the Last Day of Passover” by Anna Talhami

Anna Talhami


We studied Torah.
Per her birthday request,
we rested as our friend blessed us
with every word of Noach from memory, a tradition
lost for over a thousand years.
We shook our hips
to her promise of holy rainbows
in the lilt of her Moroccan grandfather.
We built her an ark
the way the world was created:
with words. We put on it
what we wanted for her in her coming year:
love and queer dance parties. Dayenu.
Those of us who had heard the news
of the latest shooting
decided not to tell those who hadn’t,
who had led their phones and clocks to rest,
letting Shabbat breathe
the way she was intended.
When the sun was done with us for this day,
we walked together, made a circle
in the park, held the softness of spices safe
inside the sanctuary of their scarf,
smelled the smells of their sweet scent.
We lit up havdalah candles twisted up in each other.
We waved goodbye to Pesach.
In darkness, in public, we welcomed the week.
We separated day from night, celebrated our difference.
In place of distinguishing
our people from other nations,
we praised the necessity of coexistence—
to build a new world through them, called out
alone and together, comfort and challenge,
hope and satisfaction. We opened
the windows of ourselves, sent the night out searching
for our collective liberation like a raven
for the end of the flood. We offered our glittering selves on the altar.
We were remembered and we remembered.
On the other side of the garden, new
in this strange land
could hear us sing.

from Poets Respond
May 2, 2019


Anna Talhami: “This poem responds to the shooting that recently occurred on Passover at the Chabad of Poway synagogue.” (web)

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