A Steady Gaze

by Eleanor Goldfield

I can’t look

Neither can I look away

Were it my child I would find a way

To dig my fingers in to temples

To hold in place unmoving

And force the eyes of the world to see

And so, I look

my hands to temples

Whispering kaddish for the children of the crescent moon, of the star,

eyes to sky, feet to roots

for the vast myriad we are

for those who planted olive groves

Whose olive branches

Now belong to broken family trees

etz chaim is wilting

I hold my gaze steady

Tho the rest of me trembles

Can we see for those who hold missiles

and see nothing but nakam -

and think they can avenge our history

by killing their future

But we are not avenged by this genocide

We are condemned by it

With every bomb you drop in our name, our future is poisoned -

soaked with the blood of children.

No mikveh will cleanse these moral wounds.

I hold my gaze steady

Blurred but honest

For all who do not

Grief, unbounded by binary

I weep for it all

And unromantically I hope

a jagged, relentless hope

the kind that tears down walls

I do not flee from my Judaism in these times,

I hold it closer

For it is not the evil we see

It is a salve.

It is my people chanting “never again”

It is my people who demand beauty and peace in our name

for the homes we build

wherever we are

connected beyond and before borders

to each other, to ancestors

It is justice, justice we shall pursue

It is the memory of our teachings

that we whisper in new ears

It is a steady gaze

When others refuse to see