Monday, April 19, 2010

a poem by robert bringhurst

Kol Nidre*

Forgive me my promises. Those I have kept
and those I have broken. Forgive me
my pledges, my vows and the rest
of my boasts and concessions.

Raking my father's bones out of the long furnace, I knew
that what is is what links us. The ground
we all walk on, air we all breathe;
the rocks and trees that look down on us in all their candour -

all that remains of all that surrounded us when we were sane -
and the eyes; the hands; the silence; reciting the names
of what is in the world; divining the names
of what isn't; the wounds we inflict

to relay and mirror the wounds we receive;
and the knots we cannot undo
between father and son, daughter and mother,
mother and father, the one

God and all his believers:
the marriage made without vows
between those who have pleased
and hurt one another that deeply.

Bringhurst, Robert. "Kol Nidre" The Calling: Selected Poems 1970-1995. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1995.

* n. Judaism
  1. An opening prayer recited on the eve of Yom Kippur, retroactively or preemptively declaring the annulment of all personal vows made to God in the previous or following year.
  2. The melody to which such a prayer is chanted.