The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Monday


Are You Looking For Me?
By Kabir
Translated by Robert Bly


Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in stupas, not in Indian shrine
    rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding around
    your own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me
    instantly --
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.

--------

Another from Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "In the pagan, pantheistic world view, when we disconnect from nature, we unplug from the divine source. In the Judeo-Christian view, when we orphan ourselves from God, we go dark," writes Mary Karr. "In the psychological model, when we try to wall off our true selves or pasts, we forget who we are. Kabir always turns us to the god inside us, as in this poem." She adds that translator Bly "doesn't apologize for not knowing the Hindi of the originals or the Bengali translation that inspired the Victorian English he cribbed from...these translations could be more accurate, maybe, but hardly more powerful." The poems are from Bly's The Kabir Book.

I am grouchy. I didn't sleep well (too many people and cats snoring in a room that was too warm) and I had to get up early for the Hebrew school wax museum show, in which all the students in younger son's grade dress up as important figures in Jewish history. Getting into the car, I managed to slam the car door on my purse, smashing both my phone and my little Nikon, both of which were damaged beyond repair. The wax museum was entertaining but I didn't really get to enjoy it, being too stressed out about having to call the phone insurance people (who could not have been quicker or more helpful, at least), then hunting for camera prices and concluding that if I want that superzoom for my birthday, I can't drop $100+ to replace the L12. Woe.

I borrowed my old Coolpix camera from my son, who inherited it when I got the L12, and we went to Meadowside to hike. Last fall when we went, the creek was nearly dry; this fall it's quite high, with rapids in several places, and because so many leaves have fallen in the past week, the water looks like tea. The nature center was closed because it was Sunday, but we saw the injured raptors that live in the outdoor cages -- several owls, hawks, a vulture and a bald eagle. apaulled made calzone for dinner, we all watched The Simpsons, and those of us still awake have just finished witnessing the Redskins play embarrassingly mediocre football against Dallas. Sigh. At least I got to end the day with Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II.


Anne Frank, Mordechai, and Judith Kaplan Eisenstein (the first American Bat Mitzvah) greet visitors to the Hebrew school wax museum. That's Adam as Mordechai.


How it works is that visitors press those big buttons on the tables, which light up and cue the "wax figures" to come to life and talk about their characters. (I don't know where Joe Lieberman went, but he's welcome to stay there. *g*)


It makes me uncomfortable that real-life Jewish heroes like Yitzhak Rabin are mixed up with Biblical figures -- I am ambivalent about the female Biblical role models at the best of times, and really don't want my kids taught the Bible as history.


When older son did the wax museum, "Barbra Streisand" had a frizzy wig on and sat at the same piano.


I wonder how many Bar Mitzvah suits were repurposed for dress-up here!


Here is my father's Jewish sports hero, Sandy Koufax.


The Hebrew school always invites visitors from local senior homes as well as the parents, so there is always a good crowd.
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