Carbon Energy

Match strikes box

Friction becomes flame

Slowly, steadily

The hand stretches to reach its goal.


1920s, New York

A young woman,

First American Child

Of lately-deceased immigrant parents.


Ukrainian Jewry meets Sicilian Charm,

With new family and good food,

Her history becomes history

And they have three Catholic children.


The candle sits poised,

Wick standing straight,

Yet unaware of the coming change

To its waxy composure.


Two generations later,

And thousands of miles away,

A young girl sits in her backyard.

Stolen matchbox, the twigs take seconds to dissipate.


Her favorite sight

Is the thousands of candles

Held at Christmas service

As they sing silent night.


Rabbi tells her,

You’ve been blinded. Just wait.

Wait until you see Yerushalayim,

Bursting with beautiful Menorahs.


Match touches wick,

The flame hesitates before bursting.

The true beauty of fire

Is how it gives endlessly without diminishing.


This tealight,

Tiny, short, stunted candle

Can no longer be contained

It’s grown too hot for it’s tin.


Nurtured, it swells into a torch

Illuminating hidden paths

To the coming generations.

Shaping the destiny of those who bear it.


Only, now that this cosmic hand has wreaked havoc,

She is really I and I am left with questions.

Questions that won’t be answered.

“Operator, do you charge long distance for 6 feet below?”


Why are our opposites complimentary?

When your past passed, it was a closed book.

I’ve been told I share too much,

That maybe I should close my book, just a little.


My milk is seperate from my meat,

While you barely ate either.

You hid at home on Yom Kippur,

While my white clothing shines on the walk to shul.


The name I chose for myself, Yehudis Esther

Means I am a Jewess, and it was hidden.

Your name Tova, means it was good.

Everything you did was for the best.


And the irony comes

When I try to honor you.

The Jewish tradition,

A stone and candle on your grave.


Except half a lighter later,

The candle still blows out.

I call it quits and call my mom.

Turns out “Grandma always hated candles”.


Your quest for family, connection, and security

Was exactly the same as mine.

Only you looked outside our people

While I found it safeguarded by them.


This poem is about: 
My family
My community
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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