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a ritual casting off of sins during the Jewish New Year

I change in the dark

because sometimes I think god is peeping

through the keyhole the way my father did

staring at my adolescent breasts,

his eye like a cold blue fish

that moved into his face

and changed it, the way some people look

after a stroke, half dead, half stunned

at how much they need

their bodies and how quickly the inconsolable

finds a home there.  Praying makes me feel naked

so I do it when no one is watching.

It feels like confession saying these things to you

and maybe it was some kind of redemption

I hoped to find in your arms yesterday.


I don’t really believe in god

but sometimes I talk to him anyway

the way I wish I could talk

to my husband, about how sometimes

on windy nights I hear the ocean

raining in the house

and wander room to room

to find no water, only rust

around the window sills

like a leaking inward of salt.


But mostly driving home today

I want to show you the leaves

blushing into their single autumns

the way they curl towards each other

like sleeping hands, like hands on their way back

to whatever they reach for each day

and I want you here beside me

our skin repeating its refrain

of longing, I want your mouth more than I want

forgiveness, the way last week at Tashlich

the gulls swooped down, laughing and entitled--

swooped down on the bits of floating bread

our sins become each year--

like little gods, like hungry little gods

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