I.

It’s barely my voice anymore:
someone coughs and I run.
I admired my mother’s anger.

She’s merely an echo, so I skip away:
ripples follow instead of footprints.
I fear her breathing will stop.

It does.  She’s barely a memory:
No funeral. No one’s breathing.
I’ll plant a tree.

Next year in Yerushalayim:
I’ll climb into my mother’s branches.
It’ll be Pesach again.

Both our voices will be hiding among the leaves.

II.

Could it be the sound of my breath is less than crucial?
Please.   Watch my fist expand.
Keep warm.
Find quiet places left behind.
Speak without talking.
Only a few still listen.

I am still writing.
I am still setting the Shabbat table.
The Challah is stale?  So what?
Make it sweet again.
I know the wine is juice.
Make the bracha anyway.

The mikveh is closed.  Stop worrying.
Tomorrow we’ll have fewer boundaries—
there’ll be something to do,
something to pass along for the unborn,
the ones we eventually count.

Last year my mother said,
“You have the fingernails of a poet.”
She kissed each hand then died.

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Tovli Simiryan
Tovli Simiryan lives near Lake Erie with her husband Yosif, who does all the talking. Tovli spends her time filling up little pieces of paper with words until they morph into stories and poems, eventually discovering lives of their own.

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