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American Life in Poetry

Here’s a fine poem about family love and care by Janet Eigner, who lives in Santa Fe, N.M. You can feel that blessing touch the crown of your head, can’t you?

Isaac’s Blessing

When Isaac, a small, freckled boy

approaching seven, visits us for Family Camp,

playing pirate with his rubber sword,

sometimes he slumps in grief,

trudging along, his sacrifice and small violin

in hand, his palm over his chest,

saying, Mother is here

in my heart. Before he leaves for home,

we ask if he’d like a Jewish blessing.

Our grandson’s handsome face ignites;

he chirps a rousing, yes, for a long life.

We unfold the prayer shawl,

its Hebrew letters silvering the spring light,

hold the white tallis above his head,

recite the blessing in its ancient language

and then the English, adding, for a long life.

Isaac complains, the tallis didn’t

touch his head, so he didn’t feel the blessing.

We lower its silken ceiling

to graze his dark hair,

repeat the prayer.

Poem copyright 2009 by Janet Eigner. Reprinted from Cornstalk Mother, Pudding House Publications, 2009, by permission of Janet Eigner and the publisher. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


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