Sign Upon Your Doorposts

 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.

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