On the road
to the farmstore
in my electric car,
the baby starting
to doze in her safety
seat, and the man
in his cold British
tones, explaining
to the listeners
an inexorable future
of unmanageable heat,
and the hostess says:
I’m sorry, but
that’s all the time
we have, and
she moves on to
the new war
in Afghanistan.

In the mornings,
when I wake
too early, and hear
the sound of cars
on the highway
by my door, I
lie as still as
possible, willing
the fixity I can no
longer trust in the
world around me
to sink into my bones.

When the baby
comes in, I hold
her with vague
arms, and stroke
the softness of
her skin, and run
my fingers through
her red-black hair
like a comb, and
say a little prayer
in my head to
ward away the
pleasure that will
only hurt me
in the end.

I go downstairs
and for a brief
moment, cower in
the beauty of my
bursting son, then
outside to a gray
rainless morning,
the garden in bloom,
no longer by divine
right, but accident,
the maple, tall
and proud like
a grandfather who
doesn’t know
he’s dying, and—
when it isn’t the panic,
it’s just the dull
relentless ache
of nothing certain
but mortal change,
and things not being
what I want.

Rabbi Benjamin Weiner is the spiritual leader of the Jewish Community of Amherst. He lives with his wife and two children on their three-acre homestead farm in Western Massachusetts.

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