The Kindest Cut

My daughter felt

the first labor pangs

as she dribbled

a shovelful of dirt

on her mother’s grave.

In the still small hours

Jonah was born_

and eight days later

we prepared for the bris,

shaking out

the crumbs of our sorrow

and feeding them to

the quarrelsome jays.

 

The mohel came down

from Baltimore

in a silver Lincoln with

Brit4U engraved on the plates.

He pulled down the brim

of his black felt hat,

gathered his prayer shawl

and asked me to

hold the baby’s knees.

Don’t let go, he said,

until I’m done.

 

We blinked away the tears,

the mohel thinking of

the brother he’d just lost,

l mourning my late wife

as Jonah let out

a sharp brief cry

and shouts of mazel tov

stirred the air

 

From glasses raised high

for the blessing,

we drank the wine

at once so bitter

and so sweet.

 

(Originally published in Sprout Magazine)

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