For The Baalei Teshuva – Meira Kerr-Jarrett

After Edward Hirsch’s For the Sleepwalkers

Tonight I want to say something to the Baalei Teshuva
who have so much faith in what they do not yet know,
in the words and how the words are said,

over and over, every day, three times a day,
every time they lift food to their mouths,
touch the cold doorframe. I love the way

they are willing to be children again,
to retrain their hands, the way they move
their lips and make no sound, wrap themselves

in hide and wool. Sometimes they are blind,
they forget that they can speak, they bury
their thoughts with their old clothes.

I want to tell them: you were always yourselves
and our souls are drying riverbeds, fish flapping
in the mud, gasping for breath. Our souls

are the rain that washes the fish to sea,
the moment of stillness before the wind
comes to skim drops from the tender surface.

We have to understand that our souls are even more
than that. We have to learn that faith is not
what we find along the way. It’s the hardness of our bones.

We have to drink the rock and silt together
with the water. We have to keep holding our own hands,
leading ourselves through this wet, dark life.


Meira Kerr-Jarrett is a writer from Indianapolis, Indiana who has lived in Jerusalem with her family for the past seven years. Her poetry has been featured in Lumina, Apricity Press, Communication Arts, and elsewhere. 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.