Photo by Alice Donaldson
©Alice Donaldson
(Click on image for larger version.)
Midway through the book of Chassidic legends,
a child needs help mending.
The story is complex:
the Rabbi tells tales within tales.
I fold back the page and leave
the book on the table, planning to return.
But the tale goes on telling itself.

On one rim of space where the final abyss begins,
stands a fountain.

At dinner time, the book is moved
to make room for long, yellow ears of corn,
then is forgotten. A few days later
it is found and moved again
to a shelf in the den, awaiting summer vacation.

On the other rim of space, where the final abyss ends,
stands the heart of the world.

At the beach, the book rests on the blanket,
along with towels and jugs of water,
warming in the sun. The children ask the name
of every shell and announce the arrival
of every wave in small, high voices
I try to memorize.

The fountain is beyond time and must remain concealed
in the timeless.

At summer's end the pile of reading
is returned to the edge of a bookshelf,
still unread. Months later, I shelve the books
by topic, and then forget.

But from the heart of the world the fountain receives
a temporal life, for the heart presents it with A Day as a gift.

When I suddenly remember the book, want and need
to read it, I am living in another life,
though the page is still folded
exactly where I left it, almost twenty years before.
Children are married, my hair is growing grey.
The present reverberates with echoes and calls.

The days flow forth and come to the heart of the world,
and from the heart to the fountain. and thus the world
continues and endures.

The Rabbi tells tales within tales.
The stories are complex.
I open the book.

Gail Golden

Unfolding: Variations on a Hassidic Dance by Zigmund Schul (1999):
The theme of this piece is taken from a chamber work composed by Schul while he was in a concentration camp during World War II.

Composed by James R. Carlson

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Copyright ©2003 by Gail Golden.