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Rachel Evelyne Barenblat, Rabbi, MFA, Writing and Literature
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Editor’s Note: Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, holds an MFA and serves a small congregation in Western Massachusetts. This poem was written as part of a discipline of writing weekly “mother poems” during her fist year of parenthood.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2012;142(6):1684. doi:10.1378/chest.11-3174
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The angel who taught you Torah
in the comfort of the womb
might have warned you
the world holds this too:
night stretching endless,
your breathing labored
every hoarse and broken cry
a wordless plea for comfort
no one here can give, but
the tap above your lip
just before you emerged
into this great wide open
made that otherworldly wisdom
recede, and all I can offer
as you bury your face in my neck
is the ache in my chest
to match yours, my murmured
request for healing
ascending like water vapor
and dissipating
into the listening skies


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