Grippy and Cormo's Idea Plays
sciact.gifcover Nessie and the Living Stone

copyright 2005


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Dressing the Torah

by Lois June Wickstrom

After the Bat Mitzvah
has read her portion
my husband and I are called
to dress the Torah

He sits the Torah in his lap,
angled over his shoulder
a quiver of arrows
ready for launching
from G-d's great colored bow
reminder of promises.

I wrap a brocaded sash
about the Torah's waist
Bow over the open side
over the words about first fruits
first kisses

The twin spindles
hold soft skins
from 40 deer who died
in the Black Forests
of Germany
— 600 years ago
where my father's
and grandfather's
generations died
— 60 years ago
who knows where
their skins are now?

The scribe who wrote
this Torah bathed in
Mikva — I always think
of milk bath — mother's milk
nourishing, cleansing
the best of beauty emollients
every time he wrote the Name of G-d.

He drew curlicues and crowns
on the letters and meditated
in his bath, nourished by G-d.

We agree on so little
in my family — we must protect
this Torah — rescued
from the Black Forest
where hungry wolves
roam in search of
tasty young women
who read Hebrew
carrying their baskets
of first fruits
unerringly to Grandma
the rabbi's wife

I lift the sheath
and lower it gently
down the soft sides
to my husband's hands.

The sheath of G-d's people
filled with the word
of G-d Himself.
A sheath stitched
with twin holes
for the spindles to protrude

The rabbi's wife — too young
to be a grandmother,
wears an old-fashioned
hair net covering her glory
Her hands join with mine
covering the Torah
like her hair — never fully hidden.

Twin wives, Rachel and Leah
to my husband's Jacob
with his twin-spindled message
--Jacob twin to Esau — child of Pan
— forever abandoned
in the Black Forest
as we lower and twist the cover
over the words that bind us
as frontlets between our eyes

We give our daughters
not in sacrifice
And the Bat Mitzvah --
my niece --
lifts the wrapped but potent
Torah from my husband's lap
Cradles it like a baby
in her arms,
ending the ceremony
as an adult.