My Neshama Yeterah

(the extra soul you acquire on Shabbat)

by Janet Ruth Falon (Elkins Park, PA)

I welcome her, weekly,
later, in the summer, so I can hold on to the sun,
earlier, when it’s cold, to get away from winter’s bite.
She’s always on time,
bringing what my mother would call a “hostess gift” —
some painted daisies, or cider, or a seasonal pie.
We both wash off the day before dinner
and chat about bits of this-and-that to reconnect
before we join the others around the table.

Everyone welcomes her warmly
with the embrace you give to someone’s frequent friend.
But she’s there for me, alone,
until the next day wanes,
always by my side:
my shadow, smelling like lemon verbena,
my velvet soul,
my sister, the one who I never knew I wanted.
She holds my hand at the table
knowing it comforts me
and fiddles with my hair like hope.
She tells me not to fill up on challah,
and to breathe in this moment,
and appreciates my conversation
even when I’m silent,
even when we’re all alone.

Janet Ruth Falon, the author of The Jewish Journaling Book (Jewish Lights, 2004), teaches a variety of writing classes — including journaling and creative expression — at many places, including the University of Pennsylvania. She leads a non-fiction writing group and works with individual students, and is continuing to write Jewish-themed readings for what she hopes will become a book, In the Spirit of the Holidays.

1 Comment

Filed under American Jewry, poetry

One response to “My Neshama Yeterah

  1. Karyn

    Love the line about “fiddles with my hair like hope!”

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