After Kaveh Akbar, “Learning to Pray”
You ask if I know Hebrew.
(I wish I did)
I only smile and shake my head. I wonder,
Do you think Catholics speak Latin?
I learned to imitate sounds and draw
shapes on a whiteboard.
(16 years of religious school)
I tell you
I can read Hebrew, but that’s not even true.
I can sound out words and recognize a few.
(The prayers? Those are memorized)
ברוך – Bless. אלהינו– our God.
לילה – Night. טוב– Good.
You and I discuss the tenets of Judaism
(One God, no messiah, etc.)
Or that my family bakes bread every week to observe Shabbat.
Would you believe
That I am more religious than my parents?
(For one definition of religious, anyway)
I know more of the stories and the teachings,
I think I believe in God
And I choose this knowing—this believing.
(My ideas change sometimes)
Did you guess that?
All my life I have been
Learning to pray in America
(Land of “religious freedom”)
A dark blue thread shining
Against the white.
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