First Edition | Poetry

On the eve of your Brit

by joanne jagoda

On the eve of your Brit,

impatient drivers sound their horns

sirens blare in the distance

we are cocooned on the balcony

caressed by the warm breath of Jerusalem twilight

I hold you in my arms, savoring this moment

as you hover on the threshold of entering our covenant


On the eve of your Brit,

I am the mothers on the seventh night

suckling their babes from breasts overflowing

hearts filled with bittersweet emotions

hesitant, but willing,

reluctant, but eager,

to fulfill this most sacred obligation


On the eve of your Brit,

I am Sarah

fretting when her husband,

zealous to fulfill the tests of faith

takes her sweet son, her only son

on the early morning sojourn

no tinkle of laughter wells inside her today


On the eve of your Brit,

I am Yocheved

hiding in the reeds

waiting for Pharaoh’s daughter

to find the woven basket in the bulrushes,

to save her precious son

and claim him for herself


On the eve of your Brit,

I am the mother weeping inconsolably

for her son killed by a sniper

on the border of Lebanon

I ache for the mothers who will send

their boys off tomorrow

I pray that your mother will never shed bitter tears for you

On the eve of your Brit,

I, your American grandmother,

will carry you on the embroidered pillow

to be passed through loving  arms

to receive your name, and take your place

an inviolable link in the chain of generations

that has held fast throughout our history


But if I could hold you forever in my arms

I would protect you

from the travails you will face

with the lion strength of my love

just as I cradle you tonight

on this balcony

on the eve of your Brit

Joanne Jagoda began a long-postponed journey into the world of creative writing after retiring in 2009 from years of working in the Jewish community. Her poetry, short stories and nonfiction have been published online and in various print anthologies. Jagoda lives in Oakland and visits her three grandchildren in Jerusalem every year.