Adrift on a Darkened Sea

by David Asia (March 2011)  



Kevin came to see me.

He had escaped serious injury,

Only some burns on his arm

And a broken walk.

His eyes had taken refuge

Deep in his skull,

Emptying his face.



Helene asked me to take her to the Rabbi.

She hid behind dark glasses,

Buried in the hood of her oversized sweatshirt

While falling

Off the edge of the earth like a sunset.



We sat in the Rabbi’s office.

Kevin wants to know, Helene began,

If God is done taking children.

The Rabbi tried to see past her cloaking,

Into what was left of her heart.

A man, began the Rabbi,

Was afflicted with a terrible disease.

He came to see Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn.

Rabbi, the man said,

My suffering is interfering with my study and prayer.

Can you help me?

Rabbi Israel put his hand on the man’s shoulder.

How do you know, my friend, he said,

What is more pleasing to God,

Your studying or your suffering?

In the silence that followed,

Helene’s face turned to ash,

The shadow cast by grief

Circling her like a scavenger.



It will never be enough,

The Rabbi said as we left.

We can attribute purpose to suffering,

But it is still suffering.

We paused in the stillness of the old sanctuary

And inhaled the must of undisturbed air,

Unshackling memories

Chained for decades

To our previous lives.

For the first time in years,

I held her hand.



In the dark, we drove east,

Pursuing a distance sufficient

To thin her despair.

There was no moon.

I’ve never seen so many stars, she said.



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