Lamentation for America

My niece Hannah had been a Hillary fan,  politicized over the course of this election season. She would get up early before school to watch the news, stayed up for televised debates, town halls, and conventions. This summer I bought her a Hillary “I’m with her” t-shirt, and tried to get her to join me to canvas in Pennsylvania, though she always had soccer games.

So yesterday on her 15th birthday, I wrote her the following message:

Happy birthday, Hannah! I wish I could have given you Hillary as president as your birthday gift, but what else would you like? Love, Aunt Pammy

Her reply stunned me:

I have no clue what I’d like for my birthday. So instead could you just donate the money that would’ve gone towards a gift and give it to an organization like Planned Parenthood or Greenpeace or any other organization that is going to take a hit in the next 2-4 years and that really need the support now.

I’m a kvelling aunt, so proud, and trying to figure out how to best honor her request. In the meantime, I wrote this poem, dedicated to her:

Lamentation for America

after Lamentations 3

For my niece Hannah who is the future

 
I am the woman who collects chamsas,
hands in many colors and mediums
that adorn my walls,
my ears,
my Shabbos tablecloth

I am the woman who holds the hands
of her clients when she prays with them,
and who opens her hand out to God
before breaking bread.

Poteiach et yadecha,
You, God, open your hand,
and so must I:
in gratitude
in compassion
in generosity
in resignation

but not lying down and taking it,
rather accepting the role into which I
and you
and you
and you
have been thrust:

to be change-makers and voices of justice
in our communities, our towns and cities,
for our nation under God,
for our nation under siege

We were made for this time,
those of us who have been shaken
from complacency,
from our smug and privileged places,
glimpsing a not-so-pretty future for
the many peoples of this land
made for you and me

I refuse to live in darkness.
I will rage against the dying
of the light

Pamela Wax 11/13/16

Hannah's t-shirt

Hannah’s t-shirt

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8 thoughts on “Lamentation for America

  1. Hi Pam- I’ve been meaning to write since reading your blogs several weeks before Election Day. Every one of them was wonderful in its own way, each perfect for the day. They help to make sense where there is no sense. Today’s about Hannah was especially sweet, and I loved your poem and nod to Dylan Thomas. I’ve been forwarding your blogs to Sherry and Larry. (I’m pretty sure Paulette gets them.) Thinking of you- ❌❌❌ Roberta

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