heartbeats

Rachel Barenblat’s ‘Ready’

Tonight marks the beginning of the celebration of Passover. In ‘Ready’, Rachel Barenblat uses the Passover story of the exodus from Egypt to explore the theme of taking the leap.

Even if “your heart isn’t ready”, the poem suggests you “trust that what you carry will sustain you.” Otherwise

you may never take the leap at all
and Infinity is calling you forth

***

Ready

“So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls wrapped in their cloaks upon their shoulders.” —Exodus 12:34

You’ll need to travel light.
Take what you can carry: a book, a poem,
a battered tin cup, your child strapped
to your chest, clutching your necklace
in one hot possessive fist.

So the dough isn’t ready. So your heart
isn’t ready. You haven’t said goodbye
to the places where you hid as a child,
to the friends who aren’t interested in the journey,
to the graves you’ve tended.

But if you wait until you feel fully ready
you may never take the leap at all
and Infinity is calling you forth
out of this birth canal
and into the future’s wide expanse.

Learn to improvise flat cakes without yeast.
Learn to read new alphabets.
Wear God like a cloak
and stride forth with confidence.
You won’t know where you’re going

but you have the words of our sages,
the songs of our mothers, the inspiration
wrapped in your kneading bowl. Trust
that what you carry will sustain you
and take the first step out the door.

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