Three Poems

By Rabbi Gila Colman Ruskin

4 YEAR OLD and HIS SAVTA

Masked and obedient to the six foot distance
We skipped across the busy street-
Our corona-rope taut between us

And suddenly I felt his own dear hand taking mine
As we always used to-
When that was the way to safely avoid the dangers

A frisson of pleasure rippled through me
At the sweetest sensation humans know-
The hand of a beloved one grasping yours

I remember the first time it happened to me
At 15, with my first boyfriend-
I trembled when he first held my hand

But now we are denied that delight
Which has become the danger itself-
So I gently pulled away to remind us

That we can still love without touching
When will coronavirus be over? he asked-
May it come swiftly in our days, bimheira b’yamenu

Virus Blessing

A mom in mask and gloves
Delivered us kazoos today,
And at 6 pm on our porches,
We all kazooed: Happy Birthday!
Samantha was turning three years old,
We seized the moment to celebrate.
A mere virus should not permit us
A child’s joy to obfuscate.

A rabbi on ZOOM said: “overcoming
Superficiality
Is a blessing of COVID 19,
Of this abnormality.”
Pollution is down, and violent crime
And I’ve met the neighbor next door.
Thursday–got a singing telegram
I’ve never had one before.

A nurse on his way home from work
In a crowded Intensive Care
Was applauded by thousands in NYC
Lifting his fatigued despair.
Blessings are all around us,
Not a distance of six feet apart,
Revealing to each vulnerable earthling
The expanse of the human heart.

Rabbi Gila Colman Ruskin retired from a congregational rabbinate and moved to Philadelphia to live closer to family. The pandemic offered her the challenges of creatively homeschooling her 4 and 6 year grandchildren and babysitting her infant grandkid. Poetry classes have been her anchor.  

Learning about the emotional and political power of poetry has been one of the life-enhancing activities for me throughout the pandemic.  Each of these poems was written at a different point in the long year we endured. So grateful that we are now able to hold hands and go to the park and eat outside.  My gratitude goes out to all the health care workers, teachers, delivery people, transportation workers, parents, families of Covid sufferers, public health personnel, and condolences to all who have lost loved ones. I’m going to keep on writing and you should try it too.

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