Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Havdalah, November 7, 2020

My daughter perches on a stool

To switch off the lamp

And we light the candle to greet

The eve of a new day.

I hold my hand before my eyes

My fingers are bars of a cage

Restraining whirling reds and yellows.

Behind my fingers, I am calm

This long dark day is over.

Another one begins.

Maybe longer, more deadly -

Forest fires lapping up the West.

Maybe crueler - depression on the heels

Of months spent cowering at home

Or gasping for breath, dying.

But maybe also better - a day

Filled with hope and possibility.

Eschewing dread, we wish for good

And quench the candle in sweet juice.

My daughter reaches for the light

Switch. The glare of the bulb interrupts

The somber hiss of juice on flame.

We scramble to the living room

To watch the president elect speak.

Jessica is an assistant instructional professor of Yiddish at the University of Chicago and a Yiddish-English literary translator. I am the translator of Miriam Karpilove's Diary of a Lonely Girl, or the Battle against Free Love (Syracuse University Press, 2020). Twitter: @Jessica Kirzane; website: