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Kaddish Yatom, a Poem for the Mourner's Kaddish

Kaddish Yatom, a Poem for the Mourner's Kaddish

My great-aunt died recently, and though I didn't know her well, I knew her well enough to be sad - and to want to honor her memory. She was the last of that generation. I am always struck, when someone I love dies, how odd it is that the world simply goes on, as if it were any other day. It is - but it isn't. It is a day of mourning and sadness, and yet the sun still rises, the birds chirp, traffic jams, and people go about their lives as if it were just any other day. I wanted this poem to reflect that sometimes-jarring feeling of love and remembrance, past and present, what could have been and what is.

Kaddish Yatom (Mourner's Kaddish)

Today surprised me--
the sun and skies of blue shading
almost translucent,
almost too bright,
studded with clouds
that wandered in stately lines
invisible to the naked eye
and the grieving heart.
It beckoned, this day
of surprises and shaded blueness.
I thought it would be warm;
It's certainly bright enough,
clear enough,
and from my window, 
there are still leaves of green
that cling to their branches,
so it could be a different day
entirely.

It could be a day in spring,
where the wind still  carries
a quiet note of cold.
and you waited.
wrapped in stillness.
while I walked through 
gardens just at the bursting point,
and blossoms spilled their
scent of life,
all green and yellow and white,
making the air heavy
and light at the same time.
I collected the dew
and a spray of flowers 
for your table.
And you laughed,
and pressed a kiss upon my lips.

It could be that day,
but this day has surprised me,
its colors and leaves framed 
so neatly by my window,
but there are things carried in this 
day, invisible to the naked eye
and a grieving heart.
There are no wildflowers
to collect along the way,
and the grass is stiff with frost.
My step is much slower,
a stumbling gait, 
hesitating and halting.
Slowly, oh so slowly
with love and tender grace
I lay a spray of flowers
upon your grave,
a surprising note of color, just
visible to my grieving heart.

Stacey Zisook Robinson is a member of Congregation Hakafa in Glencoe, IL. She blogs at Stumbling Towards Meaning and is the author of a collection of poems and essays, Dancing in the Palm of God's Hand.

Stacey Zisook Robinson
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Published: 12/21/2015

Categories: Practice, Lifecycle and Rituals, Death and Mourning
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