I AND I MADE NEW, Barbara Ruth

by Barbara Ruth

I love the New Years
want to join all religions, every people
who keep time a different way
so I can celebrate the new year on their calendar and make
my offerings and resolutions.
Is this cultural appropriation?

I love birthdays
my birthday, the birthdays of my friends,
Buddha’s birthday, Kwan Yin’s, Fatima’s, even
Mohammed’s, even the birthday of Yeshua,
Christ Jesus
I confess my secret yearning
“God and sinner reconciled.”
Is this religious brainwashing?

All my life I have desired reconciliation between the warring parties
however I have named them.
I have made war and I have perpetuated war
but underneath it all
this yearning.

I pray to G-d as something big
something which contains me and is contained in me
but spreads beyond all of my containments.
If you would rather call this “Spirit”
I understand.

I love the way I am now
and tremble, in joy and fear, at the chance to change
to be made new
to open out, fluttering like undulating ribbon
like the menses once flowed from my body to my bath
crone that I am
I still recall that uterine release
the pushing of the sanguine butterfly
from the vulva to the mikva.
Do I make a sacrilege of menstruation or of Judaism when I talk this way?

I and I will stir it up
get mixed up, confuse everyone
transpose the verses, change the story line
resist the orthodox even when I bow to it
even when I know
resistance is as empty as any other concept.

I and I are always being born
forever starting over
making art
making peace
with our blood.
Behold our blood
how it courses on
how it travels wet and salty
everywhere within our holy bodies
collecting stories, bearing markers that can be used to label us.
The blood knows this yet it flows on
thicker than shame
speaking its own calendars, its own
rhythms of the uterus, the heart.

In our blood
I and I have been made new a thousand times
even as this poem
is coming through.



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