It is only the content of memory that vanishes,
Often the shape remains, embracing a vacuum,
Like the faint outline of a mezuzah
Long removed from the doorpost
Of a once-Jewish home.
So often we have saved the candlesticks
But not the candle-lighting,
The kiddush cup but neither the blessing nor the wine.
A grandfather’s tallis bag nests in a box of heirlooms,
The shawl within yearns to embrace lost shoulders,
Its fringes seek to lasso exiled fingers.
We have been guests at seders
At which the exodus from Egypt is an afterthought,
“this night” not so very different, after all,
From all the other nights when freedom
Is recalled or sought, this story only worthy
As a prototype of all the others.
Like players in a puppet theater, we improvise
The story of a People without The People.
Like the mezuzah casing without the parchment,
The affixing without the blessing,
And then only the outline of the casing,
Soon drown beneath fresh paint.