Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Barenblat’

Home Body

December 26, 2005 6 comments

The cat curls on the guest bed
and I lie down to watch
as she burrows into the pillows.
She butts them, then my hand,
with the same closed-eyed intensity.

The rain comes in sheets
along the solarium windows;
daisies and Indian paintbrush
sag with water. So damp
the dishes are slow to dry.

Tonight when I say I didn’t
do much today I’ll wish again
that I could show you the drops
drying on the rhododendrons,
the sway of the cat’s tail.

Written by Rachel Barenblat of Velveteen Rabbi.

Categories: Finding Home Tags:


October 9, 2005 5 comments

Of course this Rosh Hashanah differs from every other. This year’s challah is a perfect snail-shell spiral; this year my oldest niece sat beside me in shul and sang every note of every prayer. Five years ago I read Mary Oliver under the turning trees. Ten years ago I served my housemates tsimmes and cornish hens in my grandmother’s memory. Five, ten, fifty years from now the holiday will be something else again.

But when my granddaughter places stones on my grave, marveling at the namesake she never knew, the new moon of Tishri will still be heralded with apples and honey, candles and wine. Repentance, prayer, and righteousness will still “avert the severity of the decree” and two Jews will still manifest three opinions on what “repentance,” “righteousness,” and “decree” mean. Every pomegranate seed will still bring blessing.

The spiral isn’t a circle, but neither is it a finite line. Change and continuity give each other meaning, like yin and yang, chesed and gevurah. They’re such skilled dance partners I can’t tell who’s leading and who’s doing all the steps backwards and in high heels. Revelation is constant; revelation is never the same.

The call of the shofar will reverberate through the spiralling horn of the galaxy long after earth-that-was is gone. Maybe we’ll migrate to planets we can’t now name, wandering writ large across heaven’s parchment. I like to think we’ll still stand before the cosmic throne, transparent before the mighty wind that breathes life into us and
distant nebulae alike, when the first new moons of autumn rise against those green or purple skies.

Author’s note: Chesed and gevurah are the divine qualities of lovingkindness and strength, considered by Jewish tradition to be complementary.

Written by Rachel Barenblat, of Velveteen Rabbi.


September 22, 2005 5 comments

The liminal seasons are all about waiting. At one pole of the year I want proof that my jealously-hoarded store of light minutes is increasing; at the other, I leave the potted ficus outside as long as I can, tempting fate, not wanting to consign it to the dry indoors until it’s absolutely necessary.

In the last few weeks before cold, everything pops. Goldenrod puts forth its profusion of blooms, corn stalks rattle, every wildflower and weed opens wide and lets its seeds fly. Our garage takes on the sweet pine smell of freshly split cordwood, piled and waiting for stacking.

Everything smart is stocking up for winter. The chipmunks pillage birdseed, the cat takes down field mice, we oven-roast plum tomatoes and pack them in oil. And when the jelly jars prove not-quite sterile they seal shut, foam around the edges, explode in a yeasty haze.

I want to see my folder of poems growing fatter, too, the comfort of crisp papers piling high. As if the advent of splintering ice means my creative impulse will hibernate, sleeping off the long dark night of winter, waiting for the first rivulets of melting spring to announce the right time to burst.

Written by Rachel Barenblat of
Velveteen Rabbi.

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