Where Failure Springs

by Royee Zvi Atedgi

for Luli

You do not know how I feel
if this is the world to come
if the afterlife is full of Saturdays like this
I'd believe in it

yesterday, you davened
behind an archway
of pockmarked stone
smoothed with devotion
I sat there watching ants make trails in thousand-year moss
grown, like all of us, in the fault-lines
where failure springs

you braved the mass to reach
the charming hawkers
sitting belly-stout with cigarettes,
blowing smoke over produce and shouting
love into the Sabbath

a pigeon picks its way westward
you point and say: “That bird is a Jewish bird”
gone are traces of irony

yours is the wonder
yours is the innocence
looted from everyone long ago

held in a tiny body thrumming
with joy enough
to hold everyone’s joy

we move a mattress to a man living in filth
we give our money away in the street for blessings that can’t be bought
we make lunch for your friends
they are Americans
their baby is soft and alert and doesn’t cry

at night the air whistles
over sunburned skin
you asked could I feel the
change in the air––
what made it holy?

and I am thinking, 
this feels to me a question with two answers
this feels to me a poem, not a story
instead, I say, “You do not know how I feel”
but you are sleeping already
five foot
dreams are taking you

and I am remembering: earlier
you standing by with the groceries
as the Chabadnik wrapped me
saying with gray eyes, “You know,
when Jacob saw Rachel he knew right away”