Sheva Brachot – Emily McAvan


Under the chuppah,

the bridal canopy’s
four corners open to the sky,
I remember everything –

I remember drinking your wine
my fingers inside

the world between bones
thin and compact,
exploring deep
in the fat of marrow,
compressed vertebrae columns,

seventy-two hours
in a hotel room
at the birthday of the world.


Under the chuppah,
I circle seven times veiled
in purple and crimson

your dress sparkles like cherubim,
a sanctuary, a holy place,

a pillar of smoke
and the hope of home
lights our way through the desert.


Under the chuppah,
you slid your ring
over my forefinger,

fashioned from clay
breathed life
into my nostrils

flesh of your flesh
heart of your heart,

that first summer we slept
naked together and we did not care.


Under the chuppah,
I think how
you found me after
three days
-and thirty two years-
in the belly of the whale

and I look in your eyes and
hold my breath
in your depths



Under the chuppah,
I recall
the barrenness of
running barefoot in the dark
the glare of red lights
like fireworks detonating
in my aorta

the taxi ride to the airport
and my heart broken like
the walls of the Temple

and the miracle of return,
new life opening up for us
on the shores of the sea,
what’s the Hebrew word for mother?

the skies themselves drop manna
to feed us at dawn


Under the chuppah,
your fingers play on my skin
like a timbrel, the air
rings like a bell and afterwards alone
you whisper you’ve got bedroom eyes
and laughter burbles out of me,
a river flowing from Eden
to meet you at the garden.


Under the chuppah,
you take my hand in yours
and together we break the glass
and our daughter holds aloft the mazel tov sign,

the streets of Judah
and courtyards of Yerushalayim
are filled with the shouts of gladness
and you kiss me as though
after a lifetime of fasting
a festival had finally begun.


Emily McAvan is a Jewish-Australian poet and literary critic.

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