You speak to me in unfamiliar tongue -
Your mother's verse and chapter flooded
through your flesh at birth until the songs
that once were sung at cradle time
became your breath and blood.
Bathsheba, Sarah, Rachel, Ruth, Rahab -
Your women share my bed - I share their grief.
Masada, Gilboa, En-gedi, Ahlab -
The soil's in your soul. I cannot till the earth
you walk upon without exhuming bone beneath.
Moses, Isaac, Levi, Daniel, Job -
The strengths and sorrows of the fathers are
his offspring's board and chalk.
Havaye, Elokim, Kel Shakai - The One
These names you hide inside your mouth and speak
instead of sacrifice and sin, of shield and sun.
Halakhah - teach me how to walk.