613 Mitzvot

by Sarah Matthes

I’ve been to this park before.
I’m starting to accrue on this place,
my presence a little bump of spackle
where a better picture hung.

A tinder message comes in:
Wait is that you in the park right now?

It feels
so good
to be recognized.

I shut that down fast though
by talking too much about the 613 mitzvot,
and the categories into which
I am sorting them:
confusing; amazing; terrifying; important.

The guy was like,


You know how it feels when
you’re on to something?

The sea closing up behind Moses and Aaron,
inventing the zipper, eventually —
A cloud exhaling slow over the sun,
shapes moving on the grass —

I lived my whole life thinking I mostly got it:
There would be hardships, sure,
but there would also be words, paring knives,
cross-stitches, parables — ways.

And then the arrival of blood, and its usual
readjustments. Then the condemnation of love,
the first G-d of my life, followed shortly by
trees, steam, travel by wind —

And then these 613 new g-ds:

To examine the marks in cattle.
Not to eat things that swarm in the water.
Not to muzzle a beast, while it is working in produce
which it can eat and enjoy.
Not to leave something that might cause hurt.
Not to seek the dead.

Anyway, 6 + 1 + 3 = 10
which is one of my favorite numbers.
6 - 1 - 3 = 2 which is, you guessed it,
my other favorite number.

Is this a numerological mysticism? Is this
the transformation of 10 to ten, of 12 to dozen,
of 2, inevitably, to parting?

Somewhere in the number line, there exists
my perfect balanced name.

Imagine it: se.lf,
a quantity of language,
more than I or me.

Sara.h with her dangling breath,
her name the red leave-a-penny dish
into which we drop a copper “h,”
suddenly with something to give.

But some days the decimal shifts underneath me.
Some days I am floating
with my ears under the wa.ter —

lo.ve, rounded up,
becomes the way I feel without it: low —

go.d wakes me up
and all that’s left by night is go —

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