Mourner's Kaddish

July 25, 2013

Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba
In the darkness of the first night, when the words come dry,
I haven’t yet remembered how to move or breathe again,
and questions fall with the rain
snaking into storm drains before they’ve touched your lips like
B’alma di v’ra khir’utei
the way you smiled and saved ‘love’ for the moments
V’yam’lich mal’khutei b’chayeikhon uv’yomeikhon
it meant something to you. It never occurred to you
to think about
when I might have needed it
Uv’chayei d’khol beit yisrael
or when no holy book, not one of the twelve tribes
could offer me anything more valuable than your voice,
and I was forced to pray unheard,
Ba’agala uviz’man kariv v’imru amen
unaccompanied. I was hardly surprised when you chose to go in winter, though
I couldn’t help but remember that
the best day happened
Y’hei sh’mei raba m’varakh l’alam ul’almei al’maya
in the Spring when we discovered the evening
and I convinced you to remain my best kept secret
only if to keep you for myself
like the letters beneath my bed, so unlike
Yit’barakh v’yish’tabach v’yit’pa’ar v’yit’romam v’yit’nasei
the ones leaning on the door. I don’t believe you
remembered the night I told you about love
V’yit’hadar v’yit’aleh v’yit’halal sh’mei d’kud’shah b’rikh hu
how it’s like the star we watched that night
in supernovic grandeur—
L’eila min kol bir’khata v’shirata
the way you said you always wanted to,
in with a whimper out with a bang, the opposite
of the universe, which you said was curling into itself and which one day
would fold too far and there would be nothing,
Tush’b’chatah v’nehematah da’ameeran b’almah v’imru amen
and when I asked what nothing meant
(I suppose you know now),
you smiled and kissed me—
Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya
how, like starlight, by the time you know love has happened,
it’s already happened, and you have a choice
between wasting away understanding life two billion light years ago
or watching it set fire to the sky. You told me
V’chayim aleinu v’al kol yisrael v’imru amen
not to wait too long before ceasing to miss you,
one day near the end. I told you
Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom
Aleinu v’al kol yisrael v’imru
‘May He Who makes peace in the heavens
help us to make peace with one another’
because I will miss you longer than light takes to travel
from the farthest star to you, and I hope
you’re ok with that. I am, you said.

The author's comments:
I was thinking about death, and I ended up including the transliteration of the Jewish prayer for the dead.

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