Listen!, the Rabbi says, God is One. Listen for what comes next.
When death arrives shema is a mezuzah on the threshold
of your lives, the soul's last words before leaving a body.
But I no longer hear the hawk's cry above the fields
where you left us. I can no longer count all the bones
that have buried themselves in me. Only the rabbi's voice,
this stranger who entered the last ten minutes of a life
when the daughters and all their hours could not give the word
to let you go. A woman who spoke past tubes and sheets,
beyond a face swollen from the fall and the eyelids sealed
past opening. She told you what a good job you'd done,
forgave all the secrets--the locked drawers finally open
their invisible contents drifting into the clinical air. Her words,
the blood moving through us as we held hands the road
and the river as we felt you pass, not so heavy as a song,
not even snow on the bough melting. I listened, I watched.
You were so silent, Mother, I could not hear you leave.
(previously published in Tiferet)