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Sunday, November 26, 2023


by Elya Braden

“Bereshit” print from Nireh Or

The beginning is the promise of the end.

—Henry Ward Beecher


Every Fall we rock the house,

dance & sing & lift the scroll.

Roll back to B’reishit. In the beginning—

chaos cleaved into light & dark

a man a woman a garden a fall.


Roll back l’dor v’dor—generation

to generation. 

Roll back Deuteronomy’s gifts—

Ten Commandments, Moses peering

into the Promised Land.

Roll back Numbers’ sufferings—

rod, stone, bland manna,

a wilderness of complaint. 

Roll back Leviticus’ hundreds of tiny edicts

the cost of forgiveness—

denial & purification.

Roll back Exodus’ hungry waters,

locusts, frogs, endless night,

          lambs’ blood to guardian our sons.

Roll back to Genesis—father/mother/handmaid,

multiply two sons & divide 

by one patch of desert.


So, who’s to blame for blood feud? 

Isaac & Ishmael? Or their mothers—

Sarah & Hagar? Sarah’s laughter 

withering on her lips as her handmaid 

suckles Abraham’s eldest— 

a legacy of lack & opportunity.

Or blame God—God’s two-faced 

promise: I will make of your son 

a great nation


Well, one thing we know about land 

is God ain’t making any more.

Yet we multiply like frogs, spill

from lakes & puddles & faucets & mouths, 

our hunger rises like the papery wings 

of a thousand moths splitting their cocoons, 

stripping the trees of green.


So why not drone a war on this day 

we dance & sing, raise Torah scrolls 

above our heads to celebrate return? 

B’reishit bara Elohim,

“In the beginning, God created…”


Air raid sirens the only psalms now sung 

in this land of too many Gods.

Editor’s Note: Simchat Torah, a Jewish holiday that celebrates and marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readingsbegan for Hebrew Year 5784 on Saturday, 7 October 2023 and ended on Sunday, 8 October 2023.

Elya Braden is a writer and mixed-media artist living in Ventura County, CA, and is an editor for Gyroscope Review. She is the author of the chapbooks, Open The Fist (2020) and The Sight of Invisible Longing (2023). Her work has been published in Anti-Heroin Chic, Prometheus Dreaming, Rattle Poets Respond, Sequestrum, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, The Louisville Review, and elsewhere. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets.