Always, There Is the Text

Yehoshua November


Always, there is the text—
the rules, the theology—
and then the actual life.
Just as there is the book and the cup of coffee.
Unless you are the people of the book. Which means
even the act of love—the caress, the kiss—
governed by Hebrew words, laws in a book
on the shelf in the living room.
And there is the mystical text
and the legal text.
So that one who reads only the law
considers intimacy lacking perhaps
in human presence. While one who reads
the mystical text might remember—
in the act of love—
man and woman unified below
cause Wisdom and Knowledge to wed
in the higher worlds.  Something to remember
in the act of love.  Above and below,
question and answer, body and soul,
vessel and light, tree and wind,
breath and building, the text
and the mind, the book
and the people of the book
turning pages.


Yehoshua November is the author of two poetry collections, God’s Optimism (a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry) and Two Worlds Exist (a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and the Paterson Poetry Prize). His work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Sun, and on NPR. November teaches writing at Rutgers University and Touro College.


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