Ken Seide 

Tikkun Alef-Bet

Because the alef-bet
is incomplete,

many of God’s names,
are unpronounceable.

Only angels can utter the missing letters,
only lamed-vavniks see them

in dreams
they forget when they waken.

In Gan Eden
(where all creatures ate plants),

the serpent
ate leaves

from the Tree of Knowledge
knowing they were letters,

to confound Adam’s words
with God and Chava.

On the left side
of my tfillin shel rosh

a four-pronged shin 
represents the imahot,

they say.
But it is not a shin.

Its name is unknown
so, too, its sound

and value in gematria.
It is a reminder

of missing letters,
an unknown number of them,

letters that await the Messiah
to restore them

to the alef-bet.
But how can I pray

for the Messiah
with an incomplete alef-bet?

As I daven,
my lover in bed

dreams of leaving.
How do I

sustain her kavannah
when I don’t have all of the letters?

When the Messsiah
brings the letters,

and teaches us
to pronounce them,

I will sing the Lord
a truly new song,

one to break
God’s heart,

and with a
re-formed mouth

kiss Chava
in ways

she has not been kissed
and tell her

with sounds
she has not heard

I love you.


Previously published in Poetica Magazine, Spring 2011

Ken Seide is the pen name of a resident of Newton, Mass. His poems have appeared in MidstreamPoetica, New Vilna ReviewVoices IsraelSN ReviewKerem, and other publications. His short stories have appeared in Poetica.