January 27, 2020

Sacred Spaces and Lost Arks – A poem for parsha Terumah (Aliyah 1) by Rick Lupert

…and have them take for Me an offering; from every person
whose heart inspires him to generosity…

Ever year at tax time
I enter a number into a box
equal to the number of dollars
I’ve decided to give away.

This is my offering and
it feels generous except for
the fact that this number
makes the other number

of dollars I owe go down.
This makes me suspect that
my bottom line takes precedence
over the inspirations of my heart.

On paper I’m all for the greater good
even if I don’t get points or
a tax deduction. But in my heart
it is rote and formulaic.

This is the problem when money
commingles with the machinations
of the heart. I’ve used the word heart
four times in this poem, but

it doesn’t seem like enough.

And they shall make Me a sanctuary
and I will dwell in their midst

This is why we have buildings
with open spaces and symbols
of our past adorning their walls.
You can take any place and

turn it into a sacred space
but if there aren’t the wings
of angels, carved out of gold
you have to use your imagination.

Which is actually what I do
most of the time. We don’t all
like the same colors, and in
certain circles gold is gauche.

So bring me the empty chair
in the forest, where the acacia wood
comes from and I’ll let Anyone
dwell in my midst.

As for how long a cubit actually is
it’s all an ancient approximation
at this point and we have enough
trouble with the metric system

to be bothered.

And you shall place into the ark the testimony,
which I will give you.

Everything in its place
my wife says, and I agree.
I thought it might be my
original idea until

I saw they thought it up
thousands of year ago.
I will put my keys in the
key box. I will find the

right jar for the woven wafers.
I will place the sacred words
into the sacred ark, made of
the sacred wood.

Everything sacred in its
sacred place. You have to
know where to go to
find what you need.

God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 22 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2017) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

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