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"Exodus" by Paloma
She washed the cup, three times, an anniversary gift...white with pale lilacs, inattentive to time "Why did you go?"...plaintive....groping..."I've never been strong"
"Could I have said...explained it better?" A slammed door.
Words at the kitchen table... round and round in her mind.... like the carousel at Coney Island, his favorite as a child.
"Bubeleh....she groaned...my son....my life..."
Hands dried on the frayed towel, the yellow apron back on the hook. Rituals...a comfort....her solace.. a balm that kept her sane
Loss had broken in...robbed her a second time
Faded slippers up the stairs, his mezuzah, a guard stationed at his door, so proud at his Bar Mitzvah "Ma, listen...." Hebrew prayers, letter perfect
Her delicate, trembling fingers...from lips....to mezuzah
In his room, no need for light...his father's photograph... "You are your father's son" same image, hearty disposition, Tan leather jacket, on the bureau, released maleness.... father to son, A shelf rich with model cars, red, shiny... "Ma, someday, I'll have a red car.... a fast car....I'll drive you to Shabbat services!"
Tender...tightness dissolved from her eyes, Innocent, "I could not protect you" An invitation, a schoolmate, expectant at the window, then the phone call
"What are we teaching our children?"
"It's o.k., Ma" Don't lie to me...I know you...since your first kick
An unruly head bowed, Shame? Disappointment? Will you follow my son to California?
In the corner, a wooden rocker, relic from Prague...colicky....soothing him....at her breast...safe Now all stripped away...he is defeated
"What is it children say?...Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"
"Don't touch me! I want my dad!"
She crumbled in the chair...a veined fist.... hard against her chest... anguish....with every gasp....her head....memories... entombed in her hands.
Bubbe's handmade quilt on the floor, now tucked under the adolescent chin... a hushed kiss..."Forgive me...Dovid....how long since she had called him by that affectionate name?...too long.... too late...my precious Dovid"
Outside his door.. delirious....forehead against the metal tradition of her nation... desperate for hope from the parchment: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength
"Please...I need to know..."
A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more A whimper...a voice..
"He is in the Palm of My Hand, Rachel"
Steadying herself...her bones revived.. a spring welling up in a dry landscape..
The door to her bedroom closes.