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Stacey Zisook Robinson


As a true Bat Yisrael, daughter of Israel, I find that I am never far from wrestling with my beliefs and with God. However, as much as I wrestle with my Judaism, I still feel a sense of wonder and joy and devotion. I still feel, as the Psalmist once cried out, in his doubt and his brokenness (Psalm 51:17), "Adonia s'fatai tiftach, ufi yagid tehillatecha: Adonai, open my lips, that my mouth may declare your praise." This poem reflects those words and feelings.

I find God in my doubt, In the struggle to Be The absolute best of me, And in my fear That I find only my Worst. I wrestle...

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War is not holy. It is made of blood and fed by fear, Ravenous and insatiable, It devours the world In pieces.

It touches Everything, Ten thousand miles Or five hundred feet Or ten inches away. It sends out delicate, grasping, choking tendrils to curl and coil over the rubble of bombed-out buildings, and the razor sharp ruin of hearts and Lives.

Blood is blood It seeps red and turns brown and black as it dries in the dirt. Yours. Mine. Theirs. Blood is blood.

And the thing about war-- The madness of its twisted, tainted suffocating existence, Is that it changes...

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I counted out the measures In cubits and inches and baskets of grain And made a sanctuary From a field of grass And cornflowers, And it was pleasing to behold, And silent.

Beyond those borders, Beyond the altars and their Sacred, silent beauty, Lay the wild lands-- Choked with weeds And shadows That stretched in still echoes Back Over miles And unmeasured days, Leached of color And light.

They came, Crossing the wilderness With steps of infinity, Measured in endless cubits And dusty inches, And gathered here, In my field of glory, Carrying baskets laden with their gifts And...

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I will walk the requisite path-- The one that begins here, Right here In front of me. I have stared at its armored edge for a small taste of Forever. Really-- It looks no different From any other spot; There is no demarcation, No arrows or exes To shout its beginning. It is not a parade ground, That bared-earth spot, So there is no confetti. It's just ground, (as if ground were not  Wondrous enough: A place to stand And catch your breath, Which is the holy name of God) But it is merely ground Holy ground, Hard and empty. I would prefer confetti. I will walk the requisite path On hard, bare...

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Black tights. Black dress. Careful makeup, a touch of jewelry, and heels. A hooded raincoat, to stave off the gusty downpour.

I grab my kippah (tastefully black, like everything else) before I shut the car door. As I put the clips on, to keep it from slipping off my head, I knew Nate would be laughing at me. “What are you doing?” he would rasp. “Girls aren't supposed to wear yarmulkes!” Then he would throw up his arms – dismissively at first and then, later, in gentle resignation – while a "Bah!" slipped out under his breath. Or not-so-under. He wasn't shy about letting you know...

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