Kneeling and Falling
by Florence Weinberger
Has my mother fallen to her knees? Memory
is never enough, I believe her head’s nearly touching
the radio, I’m old enough to know Roosevelt’s voice,
I can hear the dusk of war in his grief, and see,
my mother’s hand is at her throat.
She tells me, years later, no matter whose war,
the Jews will be on the losing end.
Jews are forbidden to kneel to anyone, not even God.
Only on the Day of Atonement, the cantor falls
prostrate, humbled for all of us, and I, in the dazzling
cathedral where Lori got married, couldn’t fold
to the kneeling bench at my feet.
Keening without consciousness, my father dropped
as if he’d been struck when my mother died,
and slowly my sister and I raised him up.
Sometimes in yoga when I double over into
the child’s pose, knees and elbows tucked under,
I could be that girl sunk down next to my young mother
and it looks a lot like prayer.
* * * * *
"Kneeling and Falling" was first published in Miramar