Why Fast?

by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)

Good question for a self-doubting Jew.
Me, who counts the number of pages left in the service,
me, who counts the numbers of lights above the ark,
me, who now gets up and sits down more slowly.
What is my one day fasting
compared to a Muslim’s thirty,
a dieter’s holy grail,
a third world child’s daily necessity?
Does my fast count for extra credit
when the signed and sealed decision is made?
I fast for reasons that hover
just outside the borders of precise definition.
I fast for reasons that have little to do
with the poor education forced on me.
I fast for reasons that mark my tenuous connection
to a congregation of people I know once a year,
to a congregation of six million I never knew.
Finally, I fast to ask forgiveness for sins,
real and imagined, deliberate and accidental.
And while that hefty number is being tallied,
I try to convince myself  that fasting
will let me hear the voice of God,
establishing a one-to-one connection I need to make.

The author of twelve books for young adults, Mel Glenn has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years.  Lately, he’s been writing poetry, and you can find his most recent poems in a new YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy,  edited by M. Jerry Weiss.

If you’d like to learn more about his work, visit: http://www.melglenn.com/

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Filed under American Jewry, poetry

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