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Stacey Zisook Robinson


Hanukkah menorah with eight candles and the shamash all burning

I had a completely different essay about Hanukkah all worked out in my head – all about the chag (holiday) and light and God and stuff. It was uh-may-zing, hanging in free-floating perfection there in my head, just waiting to go from thought to pixel to screen.

Then I got my eyes dilated. So much for that mythical, mystical essay.

Suddenly, though, I have a whole new concept of light. What at any other time is serviceable, and sometimes bordering on the dull-please-get-a-higher-watt-bulb-because-cataracts-and-old now has an intensity that is almost painful. Even at this...

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Blue ladder against a white wall leading skyward

I am terrified of ladders. It is not the going up-- the ascent, the rickety step up on tiny see-through slats, slats you can see through from here to next Tuesday, to Heaven and back. I am not interested in the view from Heaven.

I am not interested in the view from Tuesday. Today is struggle enough.

It is not the up-ended feeling of ungainly- ungraceful- uncertain ascent, nor the straight-edged precision of the death-gripped held-breath tentative step Down, with its trickster promise of return and solid ground to come.

Down is done backwards (done sometimes in heels...

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A green leaf hidden in dark shadows

We danced, My brother and I, a twisted tango of love and hate. He cast such shadows-- long and textured, big enough to hide in.

Thief, Liar and thief-- You stole my parents And I loved you-- Would have died for you, Given it all to you-- If you had only said the words. Instead I hid in your shadow That blazed and shimmered And grew mighty-- Long, And longer still, It covered all the land-- My birthright My heart.

Thief-- You stole from me Everything, Stole the light of heaven, And my father's eyes, That were so dim And faulty, Until he could see only your shadow: Dark and...

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I stand here, ready to begin again, to follow this road of dust, that stretches before me, but I cannot see where it bends and splits and turns in on itself. I have walked this road before, seven times seven, and then seven more: brought here returned here again and again and yet the road is still mystery.

David's harp urges me and the horns of Abraham's dilemma push me, and Jacob's ladder is crowded with angels. They move aside, not without some attitude, so I may stumble up those narrow rungs; still - elevated though I am, there is only dust and a blaze of Glory in the far...

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Havdalah is a short service performed in the very narrow space that separates the holiness of Shabbat from the ordinariness of the rest of the week. The service calls us to be totally present, using all of our senses. Indeed, one of the blessings calls for wine, spices, and candlelight to help us with this. 

I can no longer remember which massacre happened that originally compelled me to write this poem, except to say that it happened in November or December last year. That I could even write that sentence baffles me, even as it saddens me beyond understanding. How could this be?...

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