October 13, 2019


Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke, for the LORD had come down upon it in fire; the smoke rose like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled violently. The blare of the horn grew louder and louder. As Moses spoke, God answered him in thunder. (Exodus 19:16-20)

Once I believed
revelation was a sham,
a cheap magic trick
to make the failures of science
disappear. But then I thought,
What about the truth
we cannot see?

Then I believed
revelation meant peeling off
layers of illusion, sharp and painful
as an onion, until the buried
truth inside made people cry.
But then I thought,
What about kindness?

Then I believed revelation
must be a lightning bolt
that split the body in two,
planting wisdom at the base
of a person’s spine,
a tiny fire taking root. But
then I watched as that fire
consumed my first love.
It ate him whole. I thought,
There must be a gentler way.

Now, I am making a new
catalogue of revelations.

Revelation of standing
at the kitchen counter
carefully rolling the shell
of a hard-boiled egg
beneath my palm
to crack it without breaking
the smooth white orb inside
for my daughter’s lunch.

Revelation of the purple
and yellow lilies’ slow
unfurling year after year
in late spring beside
the small green cottage
in my backyard
where I teach girls
to chant the Torah.

Revelation of
my students reading
those ancient stories,
bringing the words to life
in their sweet young
mouths, until the day when
each one says, in her
own time, actually,
I think it should go
this way, and then
writes her version.

Alicia Jo Rabins is a writer, musician and Torah teacher based in Portland, Ore. She currently is working on a memoir. Her second poetry book, “Fruit Geode,” will be published by Augury Books in October.