“Yom Kippur” published in Mishkan HaNefesh, CCAR, Vol. 2

Yom Kippur


In the autumn garden,

I chop away dead yucca spires,

their white bell blossoms distant

in memory. My fingers comb ivy

and vinca for fallen leaves that crumble

in my hands. I think of crimes

against my loved ones, count my sins,

pull at spider webs and chickweed,

stubborn at the root.


I make my piles, gather the detritus

of trees into bags set against the curb.

I sweep the sidewalk, edge a trowel’s

blade beneath a hardy clutch of clover.

Even in drought, the barely living cling

like runners on a fencepost, adamant.

My roses, staked and tied to the wire mesh,

wilt on the stalk, feebly pink. Still,

honeysuckle persists, fragrant, wild,

and berries will ripen in the winter to come.

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