kviti: on yearning – a poem by Rana Bickel

kiviti: on yearning

during the month of elul 
ani lidodi vi dodi li 
i am for my beloved and my beloved is for me

when we long for God with every cell in our bodies

craving the closeness of the yamim noraim approaching
cold days in synagogues pounding our chests
sweet honey and pomegranate at meals 
a never ending tune woven through the month

i met a woman during elul 
who had an alarm on her phone 
ringing through the day 
every half hour it went off she said
kiviti adonai linegdi tamid
i yearn for god next to me always

but it's an insufficient translation 
kiviti means not just yearn but
that romantic bodily love desperate longing
i want to be able to touch you every moment god, she said
out loud unabashed
eyes closed heart open 

we have so many words for longing in hebrew
crave/yearn/ache/thirst - are wildy inadequate 
kayl taarog al afikey mayim 
as a deer yearns for water
ken nafshi taarog elecha elokim
so my soul longs for you god

but it's so much more
deers NEED water don't you see

every day in prayer we murmur
do not send us away empty handed
raykam al tashivenu 
plz just a whisper of your voice behind us in the shul dust 
that would be enough - we plead

would it though?

i don't know if i want god next to me every moment
i wouldn't want to drink then wear crop tops kiss 
ppl laugh rolling on the floor 
not that i think god doesn't want me 
to do those things
just it's hard to be a body and a soul 

is it i yearn for god next to me, always

or always, i yearn for god next to me

does it matter?
always / tamid

Rana Bickel (she/they) is a queer Jewish poet from Maryland residing in Chicago. She is a recent graduate of Barnard College where she was a member of the slam poetry team. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bourgeon Magazine, Thimble Literary Magazine, and the Jewish Literary Journal. She loves books, community, and rainstorms. 

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