November 22, 2018

Prayer for a Sunday Morning

Divine wisdom,
Please show me how
To breathe
When the smell of hatred
Is hot and dank against my cheek
Blowing across the country
From my childhood home.

To walk
Into a synagogue today
In Los Angeles
When Squirrel Hill,
Sweet shtetl that raised me,
Is no longer safe.

To look
Into the eyes of my students and colleagues,
Friends and strangers
In solidarity with what they
Have always known
In shame for having forgotten
To grieve
The litany of losses
Private and public
Named and unnamable
Across the whole wide wailing world
Without crumbling to dust.

To plant
Flowers, when bullets rain
Words, to bandage wounds
Hope, when shadows grow
Long and dark across our faces
Faith that dawn will come
To act
As a bridge
A balm
A beacon,
A source of healing in the dark
Please show me how to add
To the sum of light
When the night looms so large
And my one flame
so small.


Deborah Elder Brown is an award-winning poet and journalist who lives in L.A. and was raised in Squirrel Hill.