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Poem: "Stones, Like Souls" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Stones, Like Souls"

This poem came out of the June 5, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It has been sponsored by janetmiles.  While surfing the net to research another poem, I stumbled across a reference to the Jewish custom of leaving stones upon a grave.  It led to this poem.  Here's a link to the Hebrew language in case you're not familiar with it.


Stones, Like Souls


Where others bring flowers,
the Jews bring stones.

These are laid upon each grave,
etched with a name
or the letters taf, nun, tsadi, bet, hey
or both.

The abbreviation stands for the phrase
"Teheye nishmato tsrurah b'tsror haChayyim."
"May his soul be bound up in the bounds of eternal life."

Yet tsror  also means "pebble,"
a historic reference to shepherds
carrying a sling full of pebbles
to keep count of the sheep in their flock.

It is a silent prayer for G-d
to hold the departed soul in G-d's own sling,
counted as part of that vast eternal flock.

Flowers wither;
life fades.

Memory is a mountain
made of many pebbles
and murmuring sand;
and love is bedrock
that no amount of time can wilt.

When all else has passed away,
stones, like souls, remain.

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Comments
thesilentpoet From: thesilentpoet Date: June 7th, 2012 03:53 am (UTC) (Link)

This is beautiful, thank you for writing it.

It's not just graves, but memorials also. Any erected stone which commemorates life and death. Judaism is filled with such things, honoring both. In the Amidah (the core of all services within the religion, also called the 'Eighteen Blessings', as it was originally 18 blessings; it is now 19. 'Amidah' translates to mean 'stand', as in 'to stand'), we thank God no less than five times for being the bearer of both life and death.

It's a precarious balance. :)

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 7th, 2012 03:59 am (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

I'm glad you found this so touching.

>> It's not just graves, but memorials also. Any erected stone which commemorates life and death. Judaism is filled with such things, honoring both. <<

Many other religions also value stone monuments -- Asatru and Khemetic traditions in particular -- but I think the history of Judaism inclines people to a keen awareness of the balance between life and death.
unmutual From: unmutual Date: June 7th, 2012 12:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: You're welcome!

think the history of Judaism inclines people to a keen awareness of the balance between life and death.

Judaism is all about balance, when it comes down to it. Everything has its opposite. I wish I could better remember that High Holidays sermon; it was one of the ones I actually stayed awake for, but it was years ago and the words are fading. The part I still remember was the balance between Yom Kippur, the most somber and serious day of the year (and yet joyful) with Purim, the most joyful and silly holiday of the year (and yet serious).

Edited at 2012-06-07 12:57 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 7th, 2012 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: You're welcome!

Yes, that fits my observations. I'm also reminded of the Charge of the Goddess in Paganism: "Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you."
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: June 7th, 2012 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Even though I grew up more or less Jewish, I wasn't aware of this custom, so I was intrigued. I'm glad that I sponsored this one and learned something new about my heritage. Thank you!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 7th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

I'm glad you enjoyed this so much. The custom was new to me too, and I really liked it.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 7th, 2012 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hmm...

I must have missed that in Buffy. I'm not surprised it's in there though.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 9th, 2012 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
From: technoshaman Date: November 6th, 2012 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. Today I have learnt something. I have several dear friends who are Jewish; between the poetry and the comments, I now understand them just a bit better.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2012 06:36 am (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

That makes me happy. I love it when people learn things from my poetry. The feedback is really useful, so I know what is new and what really sticks in people's minds.
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