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A Psalm of Yisrael: A Song of Struggle (I)

God, morning and night

I feel the coarse fingertips of your grip tighten around my shoulder

Your matted calves sweep my ankles

I feel you ring my temple and bash my bones

and I feel my devotion and praise rise towards your face

as the beads of sweat drip down from yours to my body to the ground

I taste the dust I come from, morning and night

I feel the bruises of faith as I take off my clothes, roll on my back, sleep under your loving gaze

My heart aches at you God

I don’t understand

and yet the dull pain in my chest stretches each one of my heartchambers into a temple mount for you to lay your presence in

I’m thirsty for your body in my chest

I wish you could show us the way

I don’t know how we got here

We’re lost

I’m lost

and I don’t know whether I’ve taken a wrong turn or if each road reaches the same wasteland or if there is no road at all

I sometimes catch a glimpse of you

Under a thicket of bramble

Or the heaving body of a rotting tree stump

But I blink and it flitters away

Even with the sting of the dust-I-come-from

filling up my taste buds and pores

All I want to do is know your name

Understand why you laid out such a struggle

and split your people like cardamom seed and threw the spice in our eyes

Stole our vision and turned us backwards and round and round again and

sent us sprinting full-force into a direction we couldn’t see

Before we’d even found our feet

God, morning and night

My heart begs to know:

How come you kill us

How come you make us strong

How come you plant trauma in our genes and then

How come you don’t strip it out right away

It feels like our hand is on the stove

- not on it -

in the flame

It feels like our flesh has charred away and you watch us cry in agony and somehow you don’t pull us away

Don’t turn down the fire

How come you keep turning up the fire

We’re only kids

We’re only your kids

How come you teach us wrong

Where did we fail to learn

Where can we walk your path, where every step is broken glass

How can we bow our knees, when then they buckle under weight

How can we scream your name if then our throats are left a waste

How can we love you if you keep breaking us

How can I love you, God

in this shattered shell, in this shattered soul

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