Outside the South Station Bus Terminal, Boston,
Cigarette and coffee,
Waiting for the tick-tock of an hour’s passing,
To go south still,
For my nephew’s bar mitzvah.
I am caught in existential tyranny,
Wondering at my own worth,
Remembering that my nephew too will die someday,
Mourning and rejoicing caught in one Tralfamadorian moment compacting a lifetime:
8 days later, he is a babe in my arms, I am his sandek, godfather, responsible for him if his parents die.
He is a brightness in my sibling’s dark hour.
He is at the bimah, reciting his Torah portion.
It all happens in a blink of my mind.
South Station. Outside.
There is a mad woman
Sing-ranting to anyone who will listen,
It is mostly shrubbery and the sidewalk,
And me, pulled out of my time-crunching revelry,
Though I cannot discern much she says in her tune,
Bare traces of words battered about by repetition and her hard life worn like an amulet that pierces from out her eyes,
and I wonder what is preserving her,
What makes her mission?
When I am struggling for my own purpose,
What drives her to this routine?
As though it were a Song of Creation, she sings still,
So devoted to it, as if stopping for even a moment
Would make some part of the Universe unravel –
Perhaps the sparrows that flitter near,
Drinking in the tangential torrent of her testimony to bushes and pavements,
One hand outstretched, like over Egypt,
She is singing of oppression, of overcoming,
Of returning home.
Selah. Stop and consider.
Makes spark dim,
I shed a tear or two, in being
Told that this has a purpose, purportedly,
That these words have importance more than just for me,
That this testimony,
Song-rant of my own,
Is any more useful than hers I behold,
Is any more lucid than her fit of melodic monologue –
ignored devoutly by hastily walking citizens trying desperately to bypass her gaze and avoid the song,
as if merely listening to it will see them singing madly along –
Holds within it magic
That may inspire someone to step forward another day,
To sing their own song-rant of revelation and healing,
To smile, even when their heart is breaking.
O, Master of the Universe!
Maker of madness and maladies,
Creator of consciousness and consternation,
Builder and Breaker of the beautiful and the belligerent,
Fulfill in me Your Purpose,
Make it clear, as my song will be,
Intelligible and intellectual,
Invested with understanding that eludes me now,
Make me a vessel for Your Will,
Which eludes this flesh and spirit mixed,
Smoking a cigarette still at South Station.