Rachel Barenblat

Vessel

And if any of those falls into an earthen vessel, everything inside it shall be unclean and [the vessel] itself you shall break. — Leviticus 11:33 The heart is an earthen vessel, the body an urn: made from dust and patched with slip, divine fingerprints everywhere. Clay is permeable. What you see, what you touch changes you. The small grey kitchen mouse with its neck snapped, dry and grisly or the body losing integrity, blood welling someplace it shouldn’t or the friend who lets you down, the fierce hope that withers away: each of these charges the heart with uncanny energy, untouchable. All you can do is break the clay wide open, crack the very housing. What hurts is what draws you ever nearer to what we can’t reach.

Rachel Barenblat, a student in the ALEPH rabbinic program, holds an MFA from Bennington and is author of three poetry chapbooks, most recently chaplainbook (Laupe House Press, 2006.) She blogs as The Velveteen Rabbi.