It isn’t restricted to nighttime in garbage-strewn
Alleyways of graffiti-sprayed poetry when darkness
Opens its foaming mouth and lets loose with a
Howling curse fumes of rancid breath, morgue-
Gray in both color and countenance –
No, darkness is neither susceptible nor
Exclusive to time and space:
I have known men to live in sunlight and think in coal
Just as I’ve known others to think lightheaded and feel
No, darkness needs not a dark canvas on which
To paint its sordid art –
In fact, the whiter the parchment, the blacker the ink
Seems to be.
A person can be in a dark place…
But it is much worse when a dark place is in
A person –
Then, no matter how bright the future
May seem or how illuminating the sun
May be, no matter how far away he goes
Or how still she stands, that darkness will
Eat away like a famished parasite until even
The last drop, the last ounce of childhood
Lies all shriveled up in the fatal position.
When you kindle the lamps
Toward the face of the Menorah
Shall the seven lamps cast light
(O, but if it be true that darkness can live inside man
How much truer is it with light?)
When you kindle the lamps…
Arise o flame, flicker and dance
To a heart-beat, a soul rhythm
In time with the world and its
Beings, shooting forth rays of
Light through and throughout
Turning a shadow of doubt into
A glimmer of hope…
It takes merely one candle to
Illuminate an entire cellar:
One person, one shining soul
To illuminate an entire universe
For are we not flickering flames,
Light on our feet, lighter yet in our hearts,
Dancing the world into lightness?
But, of course, how?
What gives us the right to burn?
And make others burn?
Toward the face of the Menorah…
What is darkness if not fragmentation?
And what is light if not unity?
The source, the face of the Menorah,
Cast of unity, one solid piece of pure gold,
Peace on its face, tranquility on its lips,
Its light raised upward and raising others,
Its luminance shining forth, not only in its soul,
Not exclusive to its Holy Temple, but through
Its windows, windows facing out to the simple
World beyond, illuminating the bleak earth…
Shall the seven lamps cast light…
But some can think that unity too
Is exclusive to one time and space,
That light only belongs in certain
Communities or among specific
Scholars and saints…
Some would be wrong:
A candle may be an individual soul,
But a candelabra, a Menorah, is a people,
A nation of many souls, many candles shining
And illuminating, glimmers of more than hope –
Glimmers of purpose, of passion
It may be in a dark world in which we live –
But it is a bright light which lives in us…
All the individual branches are cast of the same solid piece of gold –
Let us face it, the face of the Menorah, and may we
Raise the light!
Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at jakeyology.blogspot.com
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.
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