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Kol Nidre

September 28, 2009

by Peg Duthie

At last year’s service, she wore espadrilles
fashioned from a jacket she used to wear
to other people’s weddings. So many vows
polluted with the ashes of bridges. If
she believed in God, she’d have to berate Him
even more than she already does each time
she scrapes the sludge of sloughed-off oaths
from her well-tanned soul, or when she trims
cookie-cutter blasphemies out of her mind’s
ruthless replaying of her sins. Sloppy work,
she tells Him. I can’t love anyone
proud of setting me up to fail.
Yet, the years
she pretended the holidays weren’t hers,
she felt like an incomplete book, like a spine
losing its glue, pages dropping away
before their time. So now, each fall,
she brings home apples and honey, and wears
fabric shoes to shul the following week, chanting
a counterpoint within her mind
at every iteration of the Kaddish.

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Peg Duthie (website) shares a house in Nashville, Tennessee, with a small piano, a large dog, and a drawerful of knives. She blogs at Chrysanthemum.

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  1. October 3, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks for the visit/reading and your musical comment. Here, it sounds as though you and I spent Yom Kippur in very similar ways. The line “…incomplete, like a book with a spine missing…” really works for me.

    btw, regarding G*d, Samuel Beckett said, “The bastard! He doesn’t even exist!”

    • October 8, 2009 at 9:48 pm

      Heh – I’m actually a theist, but my characters and I do share a predilection for meaning what we say – consequently ending up in lovers’ quarrels with virtually any liturgy we end up entangled with.

      Thank you for letting me know that the poem resonated with you – and thank you also for visiting my blog (I responded to your question about the high Es, btw). I’m looking forward to browsing through more of yours once I claw out of the current avalanche of spreadsheets I’m buried under – I was in Paris just this past May, and now I can’t believe I missed all the lions!

  2. JJS
    October 4, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    I love everything about this poem. The final lines, especially: “…apples and honey…at every iteration of the Kaddish.”

    Beautiful, truthful, complex. Thank you!

    • October 8, 2009 at 9:54 pm

      I’m so pleased the words connected with you, and am grateful to you for taking the time to let me know. Blessings and best wishes.

  3. January 20, 2013 at 2:31 am

    We’ve been around a long time, Cheryl. The anti-institutional breed of young Jews has jlyufloy networked, prayed, sang and kept a living community for years while insitutional Judaism cried about the lack of young people involved in their synagogues synagogues which did not reflect or legitimize our values. Don’t look at this as the beginning of a new movement of Judaism view this as our coming-out party.

  1. October 23, 2009 at 7:32 am
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