July 2, 2022

Ars Poetica & New Moon Practice

By Alicia Jo Rabins

Ars Poetica

We’re all into wealth porn these days
Trapped in our rectangular handheld closets
The schefflera snuffles skyward
My son is afraid of a cartoon frog
Still I’m pleasured by the linen curtains
I bought last year at goodwill 
Cut in half and hung to filter the sun
Their blue stitching reminds me of a tallit
Each morning I stare at them instead of praying
I apologized to my children today
It was the best I could do
I felt something crack open inside me
Heart valve, hipbones
The great poet said you have to have a reason
To disturb the silence but I disagree
I think that’s what it is to be alive
To disturb the silence until very slowly
We learn to hear it

New Moon Practice

Cutting rosehips in half
And removing the itchy seeds
Drying the orange husks for tea 
Saving some for winter, some for the friend
Whose yard provided the rosehips
We sat beside while we talked
Of variants and risk tolerance
I am sad for my children about this world
Worse, they have it better than most
AlI I can bear right now is a French rock star
In my ears because I don't understand
What's around me or inside me
Is anyone here listening?
Did we all buy the same cake decorating kit
And forget to use it?
I love that new clothes smell
Even if it’s toxic
And I’ve decided it’s time to tell
People when they hurt my feelings
I had no idea that was a possibility

I mean I literally had no idea so instead
I pulled the shoots out by the roots

And pedaled to the turquoise chamber
I ascended and fell, ascended and fell

I wrapped myself in hexagons of loneliness
And wrote across fabric-covered pages

“I’m so depressed”
I literally have no idea about anything except dinner

We have to imagine everyone is contagious now
An odd kind of love but love all the same

Bright gevurah-curtains of light 
Of earplugs, condoms, masks, boundaries

Look out, I wrote a long time ago
Before I knew of the great unnameable spaces 

Each night I take a ritual shower 
Curtains cover most of the walls

We built the tabernacle together
It was so holy it turned into a curse

I’m ready for cronehood
Let me just take off my baby blue sweatpants

And put on my brown ones
Ready for sticks and leaves in my hair

Ready to forget that loss is supposed to hurt 
Ready to forget how to put kids 

On a school bus forget to be scared 
Of mold baby I’m ready to melt into a puddle

Beyond good and bad are you ready too
Or do I have to go alone?

Alicia Jo Rabins is a writer, musician, performer, and Torah teacher. Her work includes Girls in Trouble, an indie-folk song cycle about women in Torah with accompanying curriculum; the independent feature film, A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff; and two award-winning poetry collections, Divinity School and Fruit Geode. Her book about early parenthood through the lens of Jewish texts and traditions, Even God Had Bad Parenting Days, will be published by Behrman House in fall 2022. Visit her at www.aliciajo.com.