Tallit for a Late Bat Mitzvah

A hundred generations after Tamar,
in the year of her own jubilee,
a woman still hungers for Torah.
She will be cold on the bimah
alone. Gone are the arms of family.
Only a longing for the threads
of their blessing remains.

She has never worn a tallit,
never even thought of it.
But she is older now
And will be cold on the bimah
alone. Tamer’s words whisper
of necessity’s sudden impulse,
a sudden turning, of choosing

a new path, mountains, gold
and green, woven with words
into pure wool to cover
shoulders, breasts, heart.
Threads of family, weft
of generations, Torah and haftorah
wisdom on a woman’s tallit.

Blue tzitzit cornered
And tied. Wearing words.
Chanting words, “Vayet eleha
el haderech. And he turned
towards her on the path.”
Warmed by words and old
worlds. Holding them close.

Davi Walders is an award-winning poet whose work has appeared in Words: Contemporary American Women Writers and Beyond Lament: Poets of the World Bearing Witness to the Holocaust. She developed and directs the Vital Signs Poetry Project at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, for families with children in treatment for life-threatening illnesses.