The Path

I did not want to reduce it
to that simplistic theological equation:
physical subordinated by spiritual equals
enlightenment. To live that high-horse,
humorless life—a lid over
the self, inclinations
closeted. How relieved I was
when the new rabbi arrived—
combed-back hair, pointy shoes.
To blend the physical world
and the Light Without End
means to touch the Divine
unzipped of creation’s
rigid categories, he said
at his first Sabbath afternoon sermon.
But I did not float up
from the backyard porch—
a flame rising into the Source of all fire—
as I turned chicken breasts on the grill.
And I could not unlatch
desire’s door at night and fully enter
the gates of prayer
come morning.

Yehoshua November

Yehoshua November is the author of two poetry collections, God’s Optimism (a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry) and Two Worlds Exist (a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and the Paterson Poetry Prize). His work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Sun, Virginia Quarterly Review and on National Public Radio. November teaches writing at Rutgers University and Touro College.

On Rumination