A Clean Slate


 

White butterflies, with single

black fingerpaint eyes on their wings,

dart and settle, eddy and mate

over the green tangle of vines

in Labor Day morning stream.

 

The year grinds into ripeness

and rot, grapes darkening,

pears yellowing, the first

Virginia creeper twining crimson,

the grasses, dry straw to burn.

 

The New Year rises, beckoning

across the umbrellas on the sand.

I begin to reconsider my life.

What is the yield of my impatience?

What is the fruit of my resolve?

 

I turn from my frantic white dance

over the jungle of productivity

and slowly niggun slides,

cold water down my throat.

I rest on a leaf spotted red.

 

Now is the time to let the mind

search backwards like the raven loosed

to see what can feed us. Now,

the time to cast the mind forward

to chart an aerial map of the months.

 

The New Year is a great door

that stands across the evening and Yom

Kippur is the second door. Between them

are song and silence, stone and clay pot

to be filled from within myself.

 

I will find there both ripeness and rot,

what I have done and undone,

what I must let go with the waning days

and what I must take in. With the last

tomatoes, we harvest the fruit of our lives.

 

—Marge Piercy, feminist poet and author, from The Art of Blessing the Day

 

 

“God does not predetermine whether a person shall be righteous or wicked that God leaves to us.”

—Midrash Tanchuma, Pekdei 3

 

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