Tag Archives: sacred words

Comfort Food

by Gili Haimovich (Gyva’taim, Israel)

I practice on my kitten what I would answer

If I would ever have a child and he or she would ask me:

“Mum, where do your words come from”?

Well, my Canadian kitten,

My English words come from above,

From the emptiness.

From the void space

In my mouth.

Between the upper and the lower


“But where does your Hebrew come from, Mum? With me you always speak Hebrew”.

Well, my child,

(The child would not be Canadian nor Israeli, but just a child),

My Hebrew is lying in my tummy,

Like comfort food.

Waiting for you.

Gili Haimovich is an international poet and translator who writes in both Hebrew and English. She has six volumes of poetry in Hebrew. Her most recent, Landing Lights (Iton 77 Publishing House, 2017), received a grant from Acum, as did her previous book. She also received a grant nominating her as an outstanding artist by the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption (2015). Her poetry in English is featured in her chapbook, Living on a Blank Page (Blue Angel Press, 2008) and in numerous journals and anthologies, such as World Literature Today, Poetry International, International Poetry Review, LRC – Literary Review of Canada, Poem Magazine, Asymptote, Drain Magazine, Blue Lyra, Circumference and TOK: Writing the New Toronto as well as main Israeli journals, newspapers and anthologies including The Most Beautiful Poems in Hebrew (Yedioth Ahronot Books, 2013). You can visit her website for more information about her and her work:  www.poetryon.com.

“Comfort Food” originally appeared in Drain Magazine, and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.


Filed under Canadian Jewry, Family history, Israel Jewry, Jewish, Jewish identity, Jewish writing, poetry

Tribal Ghazal

by Sue Swartz (Bloomington, IN)

Be careful to perform all the words of this Torah, for it is not
an empty thing for you, it is your life…

I would welcome an easy forgetting, if not for the words.
I would pass up allotment and ceremony, but never the words.

Presence/Absence, glory & thunder, text with great resiliency:
Velvet-wrapped, indelibly inked, my self bows before the words.

From birth, a tribalist: daughter with broad receptivity –
I lie down and rise up with the sweet imperfection of these words.

Ancient scrolls stay alive with impudent twists of commentary.
I turn and turn the story, and the story (in turn) turns my words.

Transcendence doesn’t really interest me, nor does equanimity.
I prefer uproar, wild beasts set loose in the Garden of Words.

The believer in me is undecided, often racked with deniability.
Agnostic though I may be, I do not believe these are useless words.

Oh – to be the prime redactor, creator of numinous biography.
Lowly poet, heretical follower, I wrestle headstrong with the words.

Distracted and doubting this afternoon, still here I am, hineni.
Perilous to live like this, can’t stop swooning over the words.

The prophet’s heart is a raging fire, helpless before God’s word.
I’d burn too, wander alone in wilderness – were it not for the words.

Sue Swartz is a poet, essayist, and social justice activist living in Bloomington, Indiana. Her two blogs reflect her current passions and writing projects: Torah, tattoos, and truth are the focus of Awkward Offerings (http://swartzsue.wordpress.com/), while musings on work and workers is featured on Chop Wood, Carry Water (http://cwcw.wordpress.com/).

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Filed under American Jewry, Jewish identity, Jewish writing