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Not With Words

A Poem for Yom Kippur

Julie Sugar
October 04, 2017

If we are to be in relationship, God,
let me be clear:
you presume too much this year,
handing me a book to recount my sins,
the words written ahead of time
to help me plead for your forgiveness.

No, not today, not after the year we’ve had,
partners in creation and destruction.
As the gates were closing, I heard
your whisper, your still small voice
beneath the crown on your head.
“Forgive me,” you said.
Your words rose, begged,
“Please forgive me, forgive me, please.”

As soon as I fathomed the request,
pain and distance cracked,
love poured through, but not enough
to cleanse millions of disasters
indignities trauma injustice injuries
and my own small suffering.

If we are to be partners in creation, God,
we cannot rely on words,
powerful as they are,
not today,
not this year.
I will forgive you — not with words
but in deed, with the verbs of me,
lovely as it would be to resolve it all
with a neat trick, you know that wouldn’t
be what you need.

Julie Sugar is a writer living in Los Angeles, California.

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