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Collector of Grief by Dean Pasch

by Lois P. Jones

Listen!, the Rabbi said, God is One. Listen for what comes next.
When death arrives shema is a mezuzah on the threshold
of our 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,
a stranger who entered the last ten minutes of your life
when the daughters and all their hours could not give the word
to let you go. This woman who spoke to you beyond a face

swollen from the fall and your eyelids sealed
past opening. She told you what a good job you’d done,
forgave all the secrets—locked drawers finally open—
their invisible contents drifting into the cold clinical air.
Her words were 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.

Forthcoming in “Tiferet,” February 2011


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