Second Chances. — A poem for Parsha Beha’alotcha (Aliyah 3)

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We are ritually unclean . . . why should we be excluded so as not to bring the offering

Numbers 9:7

I check my son’s homework on the internet machine
every day. This is my new-world responsibility ever since
stay-at-home school made all of us stay-at-home teachers.

The systems they’ve put in place – you can see when
something has been turned in, but it takes extra clicks
to see the actual work. Who has time for extra clicks

when we’re three years into a desert walk –
When we’ve just run out of matzah, which may
actually be a blessing?

The feedback comes from teachers on high –
Show your work. Not enough detail.
Why did you turn in a blank document?

Sometimes they give a second chance.
He can redo the work and correct any grievances.
Who doesn’t like to redo something they

already did. Unchecking a checked box is
the stuff our dreams are made of.
Sometimes he’ll make the effort to do that

but it’s not his priority. We try to instill
the values of our fore-parents – Do it right the
first time and then the world of clicky-fingers

and joysticks can be your world yet to come.
(Joystick is a word those of us who grew up in the
eighties use to refer to game controllers.)

There is no guarantee of second chances
in the wilderness. If you don’t pay your rent or
mortgage your home may no longer be your home.

The off-the-cuff words you say to the ones you
hold dear may sting for years beyond your apology.
If you accidentally touch a dead person

you’ll have to wait until second Passover comes along
to fulfill your obligations. By then your family
may have already flown home. You’re only on this
super-globe for so many turns around the sun.
(Leave it to the poets to remind you of your mortality.)

I message my son from one room to the next.
Don’t waste time I tell him. In a hundred years
he’ll know exactly what I mean.

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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