A Self-Made Cloud of Smoke – A poem for Parsha Vayetzei (Aliyah 4)

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Reuben went in the days of the wheat harvest, and he found dudaim in the field and brought them to Leah, his mother

Genesis 30:14

I recently stood up for my mother
who left the earth two handfuls of years ago.
She is with flowers now, in the Earth.

I brought her flowers when she
breathed the air of her neighbors.
You had to open her front door

to get the good air in. Most of her life
she spent removing oxygen from
her immediate surroundings.

We tried to make deals with her
like two wives sharing one husband
arguing over whose turn it was.

It led to her spending her life
in the smallest room with a cat
whose eyes were broken.

If you tried to tell her facts
her capacity for language would diminish.
She would change subjects like

she’d been practicing her whole life.
Her whole life waiting for the Tsar
to call with her money.

Her whole life much shorter than
anyone would have preferred.
Her whole life in a cloud of smoke

suffocating the flowers
leaving us to stand up
and say her name.

These poems are offered free for your enjoyment. If you use them as part of an event, meeting, educational or liturgical setting, please consider tipping the author.

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