Tag Archives: ritual

Family Gathering

by Carol Westreich Solomon (Montgomery Village, MD)

Past Pennsylvania farms, harvest-bare,
I drive to the cemetery
Where my uncle waits for my aunt
Beneath a half-empty headstone.
Next to me, Aunt Dellie rambles
About Yiddish class
Until crackling gravel announces our arrival.

“Come, so many to visit,” she says,
Scooping stones into my cupped hands.
She dips beneath the gate chain
Protecting the dead.
By height, tilt, shade,
She navigates the headstones
To those she’s come to see.

Her aunts.
Her sister.
Her father.
Her mother.
Plop go the stones, our calling cards.

Tucked among thinning headstones
Her grandmother’s grave.
Faint numbers record the length of her years
But not her strength
When a husband wanders.

Near my uncle’s grave, an alabaster headstone
Straight and proud,
Not yet buffeted by winter winds
Or chipped by mower-churned stones.
Cousin Linda.
“So young.  See all the stones.  They all came for Linda.”

“Who will come for me?”
She brushes dead grass from her husband’s headstone,
The ground uneven,
The marker leaning in.
No family gathering in granite awaits the rest of us.
Planes, schools, jobs
Have scattered us all.

Her reunion done,
Aunt Dellie washes death from her hands,
Then dips beneath the chain
Separating her from her loved ones.
Still, she invites them into my car
And they travel with us
For the rest of the day.

Carol Westreich Solomon has returned to her first love–creative writing–after exploring literature and writing with high school students in Maryland.  As the lead consultant of Carol Solomon and Associates, she previously taught writing to adults in corporations and government agencies.  Her YA novel Imagining Katherin was designated a 2016 Notable Book by the Association of Jewish Libraries.  Her work has also appeared in Lilith,  JewishFiction.net, Persimmon Tree, Poetica, Little Patuxent Review, Pen and Ink, The English Journal, and The Washington Post.

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Filed under American Jewry, Family history, Jewish, Jewish identity, Jewish writing, Judaism, poetry

Yom Kippur Ritual

by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)

Every year I assail the heavens,
lashing out at redundant ritual,
keeping the prayer book shut,
and my mind shut even tighter.
I would like to connect to Him,
but not here, oh, no, not here
in this box of old men and ancient chants.
The mournful songs loop around my neck,
and the text, when I peek, lies prostrate
on the page in supplication and obeisance,
a one-themed dirge to a devotion I do not feel.
In answer, He has already suggested
my year may not go well, a trip here,
a pain there, a sign that my fate
may have already been sealed.
However, I would like to state for the record,
I continue to bang the walls in frustration,
dying for a way in, but highly averse
to mouthing the words with the old men
who await along with me the final verdict.

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.

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Filed under American Jewry, Jewish identity