Emily Warn

Yud: The Hand of God

At dawn God opens one hand
to let cramped darkness flee.
All night clouds of glory
float beyond reach of dreams,
beyond a prayer book and a clock
which waits with you until dawn
to help you wrestle the dark
back into God’s other hand.
Hand of God
They scratched Your Names on wooden slats, in soot,
on paper scraps in Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz, Babi Yar
In Warsaw they buried Torahs in rusty milk cans
with keepsake diamonds, eyeglasses, fountain pens.
No rescue arrived, no maps with dotted lines,
no gruel, no clothing, no sheltering dust
What they possessed were Your Names,
the little that is much, the point of a yud,
a speck of hope that someone would hear
what they had seconds to say
before firing squads whipped wind
toppled them broken dolls into graves
First one spoke, then ten, then ten times ten
until a murmuring arose Elohim Havayah
Adonoy El Shaddai Hashem
Havayah Shechinah Asherah
chanting all the Names to create the place
where You are not until all that was or will be
became Elohim, Havayah, Shechinah
gathering outstretched hands to heaven.
The Vanishing Point
You slow down to watch cumulous clouds stream across the sky. You choose a more
circuitous route home and pass a tree with white bags tied around random apples. The
apples remind you of clouds, how each hang in the sky, singular yet part of a flock. Each
item in the flock is a coordinate of earth and sky, enumerating dimensions of space. The
flocks of apples and clouds are actual infinities, an endless collection of discrete items
that one can conceivably count to the end. This is different from potential infinity, which
is the entirety of infinity, an immeasurable continuum which is greater than the sum of its
parts. After your first glimpse, you are lonely for more contraction of space around the
light of your mind contemplating what cannot be conceived. What cannot be conceived
this morning? The Army has found the larynx of an Iraqi man that American soldiers
slowly strangled to death. His ribs, additional evidence for the trial, are still missing.
They are in a refrigerator in Washington, D.C. These are discrete items; whereas how the
passage of time felt as the soldiers strangled him is a continuum of infinite pain. And his
words and songs and prayers and curses he will never speak are an empty set.

Emily Warn
“Yud: The Hand of God” is from Shadow Architect, (Copper Canyon Press, 2008.