Elul Unbound: Poetry

Each Monday of Elul, we release a poem related to our weekly theme. They can be found below.

Week 1 (Introspection):

Coming Up On September
By Marge Piercy

White Butterfly.JPG

White butterflies, with single
black finger paint eyes on their wings
dart and settle, eddy and mate
over the green tangle of vines
in Labor Day morning steam.

The year grinds into ripeness and rot,
grapes darkening, pears yellowing,
the first Virginia creeper twining crimson,
the grasses, dry straw to burn.

Stone Pot.png

The New Year rises, beckoning
across the umbrellas on the sand.
I begin to reconsider my life.
What is the yield of my impatience?
What is the fruit of my resolve?

I turn from frantic white dance
over the jungle of productivity
and slowly a niggun** slides,
cold water down my throat.
I rest on a leaf spotted red.

Now is the time to let the mind
search backwards like the raven
loosed to see what can feed us.
Now, the time to cast the mind forward
to chart an aerial map of the months.

The New Year is a great door
that stands across the evening
and Yom Kippur is the second door.
Between them are song and silence,
stone and clay pot to be filled from within myself.

I will find there both ripeness and rot,
what I have done and undone,
what I must let go with the waning days
and what I must take in.
With the last tomatoes, we harvest the fruit of our lives.

**A niggun is a melody that can act like a prayer or meditation. Most niggunim (plural of the word niggun) are wordless, but some have words. Click here to listen to a Niggun that Wendie wrote, and identified as a perfect fit for this second day of Elul.

Questions for Reflection:

1) What word or phrase jumps out at you in this poem? Why do you think that it does?
2) What is the "yield of your impatience?" What is the "fruit of your resolve?" What is your "ripeness and your rot" from this past year? What are the "fruits of your life" from this past year?

Wake-Up Call:

Each day of Elul Unbound includes a wake-up call, to remind us that part of this final month of the year is becoming awake to what is coming in the new year. For our first Monday wake-up call, press the play button on the video to the right.

Future Elul poems, for weeks 2, 3, and 4, will be housed on this page as they are released!