She talked a lot, she did. Too much, (8)
In slow heavy French voice.()
I slid away her casting nets
Of worry words: ‘I feel so alone’
‘Will I reach a train on time?)
So when I heard we were to share
A room, I turned to face,
That I had avoided.
She spoke of Sharon dying.
‘Where were you born? I asked.
Already fixing jigsaw pieces
In my head: an alyah story,
Returning to the homeland
in one of the calls, outside or inside.
‘Why shift, I asked, from Lille to Jerusalem?
‘I was not born a Jew’.
She began and laughed amused
At our wide open eyes
Noga Israeli, I English
Beneath a Neem tree in South India.
As she unravelled her ball of wool,
Her heavy French accentuated voice,
Peeled precisely each step backward,
Adding further shocking twist.
‘In Lille lived a commune of evangelist Protestants,
Gentle people, a minority accustomed to discrimination
By the greater Catholic society. During the war,
They gave succour and help to fleeing Jews.
But I was not born a Protestant’. A pause.
Another forming jigsaw piece discarded.
My father was from a patriarchal Catholic mould,
Dominant, authoritarian: he right, they wrong.
Exasperated, my mother left when I was 5.
She abandoned us. My brother was 2.
He remarried. A Protestant woman,
Who did not like me. Nor I her.
But I changed schools to Protestant.
And so began my path away
From Catholic, Father and Lille.
From New Testament to Old.
I first approached the liberal Jews,
But with confidence I dived deeper,
To the Orthodox.
At 20 I stepped from the shore,
And landed in Jerusalem.
My younger brother reacted too
For me providing an unwitting foil.
For my father: a Jevovah Witness
Was far worse than a Jew.
I married, a Swiss Jew. I have
Two daughters. I had one son.
On a motor bike, he drove
The length of India, then crashed
In a Jerusalem street, at 42.
That was two years ago.
I did not cry for 6 months.
I came to India, to Jaya, to Nanital,
There I wept and could not stop.
Two, three months in one place.
I could not move. With Jaya
You cannot hide. Slowly I turned my face.
I am not born a Buddhist.
Eight years ago, I left my husband.
For no better reason than I had to.
He kept our son. My beloved son.
Who felt I had abandoned him.
My daughters to the same
Into this void, fell the words
Of Stephen Folder, Israeli Jew,
Uncompromising yet gentle words,
The Buddha’s words: impermanence.
With Tiech Nat Han talking Zen
Easy in my mother tongue,
I took refuge:
Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.
I am an orthodox.
I love shabhat, I love this Buddha path,
Mindfulness weaves happily the two.
We sit eating momo in a Sarnath dive,
She and I. I have invited her.
‘I came back to Budhgaya, Sarnath,
To fix something I thought was still broken,
But I see now nothing ever was.
Sometimes I could scream with sadness,
But it’s just feeling passing.
Deep inside is a joy
that no sadness can every cover.
Yes even the feeling of being alone
Is not stronger. She laughs
I have a grandson now, 6 months old.
My daughter lost an unborn child when
Dan-il died, but conceived again.
‘I told him of Dan-il’s death’
She told me the other day.
I dream one day to bring them here.
My daughters to Jaya Open Dharma, India.
Edited with Tammy Mendam Writers 2010
Edited Holton 2012
Edited Halesworth 2012