Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Two Worlds Exist

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Two Worlds Exist

Article excerpt

1.

If I wear an ice suit, I can fly beneath the sunset

and not burn, my son said

from the back of the van, as we drove over the bridge

beneath the pink sky.

And if I wear an ice suit, I thought,

perhaps I will finish my days without roasting

in the oven of what one human does to another

or the furnace of what G-d does to man.

Once, in shul, I sat across from a rabbi

who spoke of his suffering. He said,

I don't have feet to stand on to complain, but

I remember standing in a room, thirty years

ago, the Rebbe raising his voice to call G-d

to task.

A week earlier, at the ritual bath,

the rabbi realized he had forgotten

his white Sabbath shirt.

In the sanctuary, I watched him stand up

to pray the silent prayer

in his undershirt and long black coat.

What role do these moments of minor embarrassment play

in a life of greater miseries?

Could the rabbi concentrate on his prayers?

And if so, what did he ask G-d for

at that moment?

II.

If I had worn a cage of ice around my heart,

it would not have cracked

as I stood in the Cheder's narrow hallway

and heard the principal's matter of fact voice say,

We cannot help your eldest daughter.

She should go to another school.

If I wear a band of silence around my head,

I will hear nothing,

which is what my youngest daughter hears.

I would like to rise up

and lodge a complaint before G-d,

but each morning I wake late for prayers

and rush to catch up with the other worshipers. …

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