A Place You Do Not Know
That day I broke my toenail against the corner of the closet door and wondered if doors could ever close. I borrowed
someone’s nail scissors and cut off dense yellow skin.
No one has bandaids. I
wear socks to bed.
Mom loved me so much I broke mirrors (ani ohevet otach)
and kissed boys in the dark. Ah-knee! she said, spiting out body parts, Oh hev-it! Oh talk!
Oh how we used to talk!
Feet in matching mini Jacuzzis she always chose Nantucket Mist and the Vietnamese woman with cracked yellow nails said “your daughter looks so like you.”
Clasped hands and we would walk to shul. She cried when she named me
barechu et adonai hamevorach.
Now I raise my hand on Yom Kippur and ask questions about Odysseus. My stomach growls and I eat granola.
That night I dreamt of an escalator that never ended and monsters with frozen faces
(see, it isn’t so scary, shana madela) ear to an empty mattress and car alarms go off on the street.
Six floors up they ricochet, they are distant prayers they are
Mommy, I said, Mommy she is making carrot cake and ani-ohevet-
otach she watches the West Wing and does the New York Times crossword on weekends,
I say l’chi lach am I a blessing am I your blessing do you remember this?
1. "Ani ohevet otach" is Hebrew for "I love you."
2. "Barechu et adonai hamevorach" is the Jewish call to worship. It sort of means "Rise and bless Adonai your God." When someone becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah they say the Barechu before the blessing over the Torah, which signifies their coming of age.
3. "Shana madela" means "beautiful girl" in Yiddish.
4. "L'chi lach" means "Go, get you gone" in Hebrew, and is what God said to Abraham when he told him to leave his father's house follow God to a new land. It is also the name of a song by every Reform Jew's favorite songwriter, Debbie Friedman.