You touch
the tender part
of me
to a point
I dare not even dare –
knowing as always
almonds and raisins
the bitter and sweet.
But as yet
the sky has
kindly refused to fall in.

You’ve been
Sweeter than charoseth –
more rare
with your laughter –
of raisins, apples, almonds
and wine,
scent more fragrant
than cinnamon.

I brought only
bitter things.
Herbs stinging
on the tongue,
dough – baked
on the back,
parchment thin.
Signs of affliction.

There has been a sea,
but no man
could lead the way.
No woman would have
danced him on…
no woman…
There has been
no lightening, no interventions,
parting of the waves,
thunder rollings –
only absences.


I feel as if
I am not here at all –
asking the sky
why it chooses to forget
why does it not answer?
Realising my voice
that would remain unknown.

There is also
a desert
that I traverse
waiting for signs
subtler than partings of waves.
It was arid
but for
the miracles of approbation
in your smile.

At such times
I sang
in songs unknown
danced with the moonlight –
but the sky
would not answer
and the dessert
obliterate our tracks.

It is still as if
I too had come out
of slavery.
Every day
it falls from me, and,
for me there is no dream
of a promised land
only the remembrance
of heartlands
that we made.

All I have
are the memories –
of laughter, cinnamon,
your voice of music
and your name of tears –
and as always
the absence of your body.

I can look
only for other heartlands,
oases that women make.
Moving towards this –
Is a freeing
bitter and sweet as miracles

I will journey on.

@Tess Joseph

First published in “Shifra”
Kislev 5745/ December 1984