Art: Layla Klinger, “Hand 281 (Holemaker and Her Hole)”

Breadcrumbs of Bava Batra

People like facts.
They are sturdy, you can hold on to them, point to them, other people can look with you at the very same thing. Like a hospital admittance bracelet.

Some children’s lives are made of facts.

Some are made of breadcrumbs.
You might notice a missing piece in the narrative. But only the art of following closely,
the line of breadcrumbs,
walking you around,
what is missing,
can lead you to the possibility of fact.

So start like a bloodhound.
No, an artist.
Ok, start, like a forensic scientist.

We can use photos.

the one with a baby scalp, balding. Scan the photos:
to crib
to bed.
Each one with a fence,
she can’t get out.
Perhaps she pulls herself out, through the roots,
of her hair.
A tiny little Rapunzel,
her own prince.

As a scientist, you might be ready to move on. Seek photos of other rooms.

Here’s the playroom:
Every last toy,
is spilled upon the ground,
a basic sacrifice, or
an act of toddler unspeakable rage. Your eyes might rest,
stopping at the walking child,
now in a walker.

For the scientist,
please note:
That the hospital reports, the blood stains,
the bumps, bruising, stitches,
the man in the basement, and the pipeman,
are gone.
So how can they be facts?

Fear of eye contact,
sharp sounds,
surprise touch,
these are but breadcrumbs.

That I do not know the basic rites of women and girls, that the world fell apart and away when I breastfed, are breadcrumbs.

A brainstem broken and reconnected, hernia at age 3,
too many concussions to count.
Are these facts?

Are these breadcrumbs?

That every student must be seen, celebrated and cared for, my dedication to 276 girls whom I will never meet, raising their memory,
not letting them be erased.

Only breadcrumbs.

In Bava Batra (12b:3) Rabbi Yochanan said, “From the day that the Holy House was destroyed, prophecy was taken away from prophets and given to addicts and children.”

When things turn to rubble, we don’t believe,
those we see as incomplete, or dirt-covered.

We have, we had, the prophecy in our hands, we might have done teshuva,
and even some tikkun.
But the joke is on us,

God only speaks through those who won’t be believed.