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The Light of Your Return

A Hanukkah Poem

Alex Averbuch
December 08, 2023

Original photo: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images

Original photo: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images

what is it like when the resurrection comes
but there are no resurrected

when the Exodus is so close

but Egypt is everywhere

when there is so little oil

but countless endless days

when you strain to see the silhouettes

but your eyes are drowning in tears

when you were supposed to be back tomorrow

but today is already yesterday. and you’re still not here

and there is no place

where you weren’t

there is no time in which you weren’t

there is no thought you haven’t gotten stuck in

because there is nowhere left to poke with the awl

excuse us – clumsy tailors!

because we sewed with lead

and hammered with silver nails

your belly, our God

how do you carry all your children

together and close by?

we are unhurried people

work the war sluggishly

with flowers and fruits, see

in bursts, in bursts

with strained hearing

with heightened vision

gray long tunnels, dead ends

like an exhalation and time

without your image and likeness

exhalation and time

where is your light toward which they will march?

crepuscular as a holiday

cruel as borders

gentle as native ruins

come out to us!

come out into it!

the first light will illuminate your path

the second, your faces so dusty and pale

the third, us ashamed ones

the fourth light, confused hugs and crying

the fifth, unbearable memory

the sixth, those who were left behind

the seventh, hope and rage

the eighth and continuous light – will be you!

Alex Averbuch is a Ukrainian Jewish poet. His latest book is Zhydivsky Korol (The Jewish King), a 2023 finalist for the Shevchenko National Prize.