By Marcia Falk (Berkeley, CA)
In her new book, The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season, renowned poet Marcia Falk re-creates key prayers and rituals in poetic forms from a contemporary perspective for those in search of a contemplative approach to the High Holidays. Here is an excerpt:
What Do You Have?
Not this earth, not even dust—
Not yours, caw invisible crows
like doors swinging shut.
Not your memories, rising
and burning in the air
like leaf-dew in sun.
Not your thoughts, poking in
and darting out
like hummingbirds in the blossoms.
Only this bit of time (like clouds unforming)—
even as you point to it,
Nothing. You began as nothing and you will end as nothing. And in between—everything, and nothing. In between—joy and sorrow, beauty and decay. Everything yours to partake of, yours to bear. Yours to see, to know, to give birth to—and to let go. None of it yours to have.
Not even you are yours to have. You belong to a wholeness so great you cannot even conceive of it.
No, it is not a belonging; nothing owns you. You are simply part of it. You came out of it and you will return to it. You do not ever leave it, you are part of it forever.
And this is your moment to be alive.
Marcia Falk was born in New York City and raised on Long Island in a Conservative Jewish home. She received a B.A. in philosophy magna cum laude from Brandeis University and a Ph.D. in English and comparative literature from Stanford. A university professor for fifteen years, she taught Hebrew and English literature, Jewish studies, Bible, and creative writing at Stanford, the State University of New York at Binghamton, and the Claremont Colleges. Her classic verse translation of the biblical Song of Songs was released in 2004 in a new edition, The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible (Brandeis University Press).
For more information about her work, visit: http://marciafalk.com/
The material posted here is excerpted from The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season By Marcia Falk (HBI Series on Jewish Women, Brandeis University Press) and reprinted with permission of the author and publisher.