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Apr 5 2013

Kveller Poetry Corner: Mitzrayim

By at 3:38 pm

mother and newborn feetPassover is now behind this year, and with it our celebration of the exodus from Egypt. In the middle of the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, we find tzar, narrowness or constriction; yet, surrounding that narrowness, is mayim, water, fluidity, expansiveness.

As a mother of a 6-month-old, my days oscillate between mayim and tzar, tzar and mayim, expansiveness, then constriction, and then back again.

We come home late – me and my baby, Caleb, who I nursed and rocked through an intensive training for work – both of us exhausted.
Isaac, my husband, isn’t home,
and it takes all of my energy just to hold Caleb.
We are so tired, tzar,
so in love, mayim.

Isaac comes home,
we eat pasta in the dark, alternating turns walking our baby around.
Then, my head starts narrowing, squeezing, the light becomes too bright,
our baby won’t fall asleep, Isaac puts him down in the crib to cry,
TZAR, TZAR, TZAR,
my head pounds, my sweet baby wails,
TZAR, TZAR, TZAR.

25 minutes pass…

Somehow, Caleb stops his crying, tosses and turns a bit more,
and falls asleep on his belly, his head tilted to one side, little nostril peeking through,
mouth open,
deep breaths,
mmmmayim.

Isaac tiptoes into the living room to take care of me, his other baby.
A cold compress, 2 motrin, a sweet massage,
an opening,
a bit of relief,
a rivulet of mayim.

And then we all sleep.
Caleb, Isaac, and me, in a row, on the bed,
feeling each other’s warmth, listening to our collective breathing.
Softness, fluidity, family –
the Promised Land.


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