Through a series of events today, the poem Tattered Kaddish made entry in my life. The Kaddish is a Jewish prayer, a caring way to express your undying love and demonstrate that the soul is never forgotten. While this poem is not the actual Kaddish, I believe the explanation is important. For me, reading it again and again today has given me comfort and extended my love and understanding as to why Shelly chose to leave this world. And us. It’s been a long, long time since I wrestled my faith for understanding, more often I’m simply and purely missing her physical presence. So, although I’ve long ago accepted that I’ll never understand why, this poem, and in particular the last line, leads me to a broader comprehension.
Adrian Rich, from An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991 (1991)
Taurean reaper of the wild apple field
messenger from earthmire gleaning
transcripts of fog
in the nineteenth year and the eleventh month
speak your tattered Kaddish for all suicides:
Praise to life though it crumbled in like a tunnel
on ones we knew and loved
Praise to life though its windows blew shut
on the breathing-room of ones we knew and loved
Praise to life though ones we knew and loved
loved it badly, too well, and not enough.
Praise to life though it tightened like a knot
on the hearts of ones we thought we knew loved us.
Praise to life giving room and reason
to ones we knew and loved who felt unpraisable
Praise to them, how they loved it, when they could.