Poetry by Janet Eigner

chamisaDuring a break in High Holiday services, AARC member Sally Fink brought me a copy of a stunning poem by her friend, the Sante Fe, Jewish poet, Janet Eigner. How grateful I am to be introduced to her! The poem, Sanctuary, has yet to be published so we can’t put it up on this blog yet. Below is another of her exquisite poems. And here is a wonderful review of Eigner’s second poetry collection, What Lasts is the Breath, “Reflecting on her contact with the Hopi and how it deepened her understanding of Judaism, Eigner said, ‘I do understand that ruach, (breath or spirit or wind) all can refer in Jewish belief, to God, and that the concept began simply and gained God meaning over the centuries of Jewish evolution.’”

Isaac’s Blessing
by Janet Eigner

When Isaac, a small, freckled boy
approaching seven, visits us for Family Camp,
playing pirate with his rubber sword,

sometimes he slumps in grief,
trudging along, his sacrifice and small violin
in hand, his palm over his chest,

saying, Mother is here
in my heart. Before he leaves for home,
we ask if he’d like a Jewish blessing.

Our grandson’s handsome face ignites;
he chirps a rousing, yes, for a long life.
We unfold the prayer shawl,

its Hebrew letters silvering the spring light,
hold the white tallis above his head,
recite the blessing in its ancient language

and then the English, adding, for a long life.
Isaac complains, the tallis didn’t
touch his head, so he didn’t feel the blessing.

We lower its silken ceiling
to graze his dark hair,
repeat the prayer.