Friday, January 5, 2007

A departure from all things Jewish, or is it?

I wrote last night. It was brief and fleeting and followed an incredibly bizarre half-hour of trying to fall asleep and being completely overwhelmed with emotion for no apparent reason whatsoever. There are these moments (that I've had since I was a child in elementary school) where I become completely taken with everything and nothing at all and I weep. It sounds weird, I know. But it happens. Sitting in a still room with all of the lights off, mind calming, breathing easy, and it comes out of nowhere. The feeling has come while editing at work, while sitting on a plane, while sitting in class. It just comes, and it doesn't stop until I ... do something to make it stop, be that write or speak outloud to no one in particular in beat and rhythm. So this is what came out this time around:

(DISCLAIMER: I've won praise and top spots for my performance poetry ... and been subsequently turned down for the publication of my poetry, because of the very reason it is well-recieved in performance. When reading it on the page, it loses the rhythm and beat and voice.)

i built this castle and
crowned myself queen.
queen of the things that
have yet to be seen.

i'm painting lavish
landscapes with fingertip
my hair making bristle
brushes, stroking and
choking the scene,
of things that fail to be seen.

i carry pieces of memories
i have yet to incur,
an advanced debit owed
to things that i cannot
begin to dream.

and yet upon my thrown
of thornes i'm sitting
and wishing and crying
out loud of
Ani ...

i built this castle, and
crowned myself queen,
queen of the things that
might have never been

Those three instances of ani are not for Ms. Difranco. Those are, rather, "I" or "I am" in Hebrew. A common phrase is "Ani Adonai" -- I am the Lord. For me, ani was followed by an empty verse. And then this poem came. Interesting, I suppose. You can tell me what the poem means to you, because I know what it means to me -- a hodgepodge of personal discovery and journey mixed with creation tales and history's tragedy. Short, but full of so much, it is.


For those keeping score at home, I checked the Plaut Torah (w/commentary) tonight while at shul, and it would appear that Plaut's translation of Gen. 48:16 also loses the multiply "like fish" reference and instead says the descendants shall be teeming "multitudes." For those of you confused, I wrote about it here in this week's parsha discussion. I don't get how "fish" can turn into "multitudes" ... even if only to condense the wording because to do so sacrifices the significance of the Jewish people being as fish, free of the evil eye.