Nowhere to be found is atonement

From Detour Ahead

(Yom Kippur 5781/2020)

Restaurants crowding the unmasked gulping

in what life can easily digest

streets panicked, parking spaces

gobbled by shoppers grasping at air—

Are the synagogues closed from pandemic?

Or shules shuttered finally, thousands

of years after altars graced

with goats and rams their throats slit


their crimson flooding like triumphant flags

heralding a landless nation —

And now we scurry in a nationless land,

our voices extinguished even as we cry out


still even as we gasp with breath

meant to recite Torah instead

today, swaying gently backward

then forward in equal measure —


our human pendulum marking a time

when we had not already atoned enough.