Reflections on Life After a New Year
by Martine Rossum
Rosh Hashanah, 5767
Life after, awaking from a dream into the dream, the drama of You, calling out to You
after falling out with You.
Are You still there? Or are You here?
Are things as they seem to You?
Or are You as things seem to me?
I know this place, this loom of woven thought,
cobweb draped, the room You once escaped
before I even noted You were sought.
A store for tomes unbought, an antiquarian preserve of memoirs and vignettes,
triumphs and regrets,
arcana of the self
successively arrayed but unarranged.
On one low shelf, there rests the book I penned,
the paper, parchment-like with age, yet half each page remains
I know too well how it begins but nothing of the end.
On its half-title page, I strain to read a two-line title halved: on one line, Life;
on one line, After.
After what, I ask myself. After that, I answer.
The book is signed, a dedicated brief:
I hope you find anticipated peace.
From Me, forever yours.
This slim collection, a juried selection,
the only extant copy of a first edition—
What is its worth, this soul-bearing history?
What would it bring if sold, what if abandoned to the earth? A mystery.
Already text is blurred and ink is smudged
from readings yet unheard,
unviewed but judged,
marked up by marginalia and riddled with redaction, as if the reader—or the writer—
still struggled to sort out the story’s action.
But truth evolves.
Some beginnings are lost, others revised at some cost until unrecognized,
forgotten but memorized as told and retold to the end. Then.
Do we rise awake or fall for Time asleep?
Are we tossed like refuse bulldozed
into stinking heaps,
before becoming landfills
piled to the sky?
Are we more? Is there more?
From the first place I read first words:
In the beginning, it states.
The folio is numbered third, but here bound first, a quirk, as is a custom of the trade, even in self-published work.
Who remembers their beginning stage, earliest years: the screams, the scramble,
laughing terror, sudden tears,
the climb to be at cause,
to rise and walk without a tumble?
Up the stairs?
Recalled or not, beginnings still survive, arrive,
starting over and again:
reiteration, reprise without repeat,
always beginning, another beginning for as long as we feel we reach to be real, to be alive.
But in the end. Singular.
The end: a singularity.
Along the spiral path we lead, we plead for clarity:
renewal, a seed, the offer of redemption that heeds the Head of each new year—
if only we can summon true intention, resuming self-invention that we be rewritten here
once more into The Book.
Another turn, another day, we look into another chance, another rightful choosing,
until that one and single end.
Until that then, until that loosing,
© 2020. Reprinted with permission from Imagined Poets – Silent Songs: Collected Poems and Lyrics (Gesher Press, 2020, ISBN 978-1-7326091-5-0)