January 21, 2022

Two Great Lights & Other Poems

By Ester Eckhaus

Rivka Nehorai, Destiny, 2020

An Offering

And streets will stretch only longer
When the once wise walk backward

What can I wash in the water
To bring up on the altar?

Am I even worthy of a gift to the Divine?

Or do my hands smell too much of earth,
My feet of sky?
What shall I bring to the temple,
If not song?

My King,
A crown-bearer not,
But the hand under the earth.

Do only my brothers have a seat in your kingdom?

My Queen,
A royal mother yet,
The tent over the heavens’ face.

Does only your veil find a place at the table?

Servant and soldier
Though I was trained to be . . .
I find myself suddenly
An apprentice, a partner,

And a daughter
Singing praises with hands outspread.

Two Great Lights

And finally, when the sun sets down his too-bright crown
I am free to lock eyes with the moon
As she swings slowly overhead
And glows on lonely roads

On some nights I sit beside her
and tell her of the daylight hours she has missed
While she tells me of planets I have never seen

But on other nights I raise my hand
to wipe soft tears from her full face
As we speak of the injustice that will soon sliver her small light

And on those quiet nights 
Her light comes to rest beside me
And I whisper promises
of the days when she will no longer recede

Let Me Pray

Let me pray
Let me sway
And whisper
Though it be madness
I need this frantic song to God

Because the soul
Is a heavy burden
Like the world
Upon another
Causing me to stagger
And sing out

A quick prayer
In this dying light
Like a balm upon my heart
And a soft hand
Over my eyes

Let me pray

Ester Eckhaus is a woman-loving, devotional Jewish poet, whose writing explores the existential experience of encounter—between God, world, self, and others. Raised in a Hasidic community in Brooklyn, Ester’s path has led her far afield and deep within. Her poetry has previously been featured on Living Jewishly and can be found on Instagram as well (ester.bayla.poetry).