We thanked her by digging a hole

It is how we say thanks.

The hole had four corners and its walls
were built of earth-psalm, thirsting.

Her sister and her lover dragged out
two boxes of books by the hole

and the rabbi told us, reach in,
pull out a book. The books smelled

sour on their yellowed pages but the unbled
words told oldest stories, carried prayers

penciled over by centuries of fathers,
inked by excrement of beetles

and the feather of a scribe.
First we lowered her body

into a box, then the box
into a hole, and then

the books.
We had to drop them in, and listen

to them thunk against the box,
against the soil, echo of earth

where libraries have been harvested,
grains of sand becoming paper

now a small collection of everything
being returned. We lined the hole in books

until we could not see the box
or the body laid within it. I stood

at the edge of the place where books go to die,
to mingle with the great mouth

that unthreads their bindings with its tongue.
We call it geniza and we will call it grave

and it will unbind her and she’ll turn
to the page of the book in the place

beyond the place where light touches,
there among mysteries throbbingly quiet,

her mind blooming a great field of language,
her retinas decaying, forever opened, her eyes.

 

 

 

 

Mónica Gomery is a rabbi and poet, raised by her Venezuelan Jewish family in Boston and Caracas, and now living in Philadelphia. Her work explores queerness, diaspora, ancestry, theology, and cultivating courageous hearts. She is the author of Here is the Night and the Night on the Road (Cooper Dillon Books, 2018), and the chapbook Of Darkness and Tumbling (YesYes Books, 2017). Her poetry has been published in various journals, including most recently Frontier, Foglifter, Rabbit Journal, and Plenitude Magazine. She has been a Pushcart Prize nominee and a finalist in the Cutthroat Journal Joy Harjo Poetry Contest.