In this unparalleled universe
Many voices talk all at once:
Master Mind talks deliberately,
Enunciating every thought-out,
Diamond-cut syllable with a rather
Unsettling flare for the grammatic;
Lady Heart talks passionately,
Every word a fragile lucidity
Straight from the glassblower’s
Furnace: beautiful to behold;
Scalding to hold.
The unparalleled universe that is man –
Many different voices, with different
Pitches, accents and languages, all
Trying to get (if not the last)
At least one word in edgewise.
Life is learning when to listen
To which voice
And when and which to ignore.
But there are times when voices,
Are at a loss for words: speechless,
Shocked, tongue-tied and twisted,
Fuddled and befuddled, dumb
It is these times, of complete joy
Or complete pain, of utter happiness
Or utter horror, that if a voice attempts
To sound wise or articulate, instead
Unleashes an insensitive barrage of
Ink more barrier than language.
There are times of such joy, and may they
Be many, when even one letter of reinforced
Steel would just melt in the heart of the sun;
There are times of such pain, and may they
Be none, when even an entire library of kind
Words would shatter in the shadow of heart-
And it is this that begs the quest:
If but no sense or sensation,
No brilliance or strength,
No voice can soothe such
Hurt, how can one ever be
May it never be, but if one reach
Such an impurity, a dead-end with
No more turns altogether, the heart
So used and the mind so abused that
The voice is lost and forgotten, shushed,
How can one ever find the way again, feel
Life again, touch purity again, be innocent again?
Whoever touches the corpse…
Chalky lips hymning a requiem for an ode;
Knees and ankles disjointed in a lifeless-march;
Rot and decay creep along, circling like vultures
A carcass. Death has laid its black lips upon a
A silent heart.
There are times of lifelessness:
When the truth of our spirits
Is buried by the
Shovels of selfishness
With the earths of animosity
In the graves of loneliness
Speechless, the voices no longer talk at all
A red cow complete
Which has no blemish
O, but don’t you know we are beyond, way
Beyond these things, beyond voices, beyond
Any impurity, a corpse may touch our bodies
– after all they are of the same material –
But how can it ever touch our soul, our essence?
This is the statute
Of the Torah…
A statute isn’t about what our voices say,
What our minds think or what our hearts
Feel, a statute, a chok, is engraved in our souls
For no reason other than
Because the One who
Created death also
The statute of the Torah –
The entire Torah:
No matter what falseness we may touch,
Where we may have been and what we
May have done, somewhere there is a
Red cow ready to bestow its ashes and
Purity upon us –
It may sound fantastic, I know,
But that’s only because it is.
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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