May 04, 2020

Article at The Reform Jewish Quarterly

Sitting Shivah and Haiku for the Fashion Minded

Sitting Shivah


I take extra care today to make sure

Sheets are tucked underneath the mattress

The bedspread draped evenly all around

Pillows fluffed upright at the headboard

The room ready for company.

I supervise the kitchen like she did

Directing people to dishes

In that cupboard

Silverware in this drawer

Napkins on the table over tere.

Food, plates, candlesticks

At the ready on the buffet.

Long-ago uncles mumble hellos

Forever-aunts wander about, numb.

Her still-shocked friends attempt comfort.

I walk through the mournful throng

Sit by my just-made friends whose duty

Brought them here wondering what to say.

(It’s okay, you don’t have to stay.)

The first night, and every night of shivah

The sunset---hot pink and gold---

Our diminished family pretends

To eat dinner at the usual time.


Haiku for the Fashion Minded


Triangle Fire, sweat-

shops, piece work for pennies a

pocket, the small change


job with long hours for

those who ask no questions, who

eye only the profits


earned. Yes, sweatshops still

exist; cheap labor for high

profits. That never


goes out of style. Some

hire designers who can draw

but can’t hem, attach


a sleeve or insert

a zipper on their own. Want

to avoid a wracked


conscience yet still make

money? Nothing new to learn:

just work hard, treat all


who work for you well

and know your craft and the art.

Remember: any


hack can copy. Take

chances, lead the way. Be you.

Be you. Only you.

From the Spring 2020 issue of The Reform Jewish Quarterly
published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis