Lately, the Jewish-American poet Marge Piercy has captured my attention. While her father was protestant, she was raised in the Jewish tradition by her mother and maternal grandmother.
In Piercy's poem "Chuppah", she masterfully reflects on the iconic four-poled and often ornately decorated structure featured in Jewish weddings. While the beams are strong, providing parameters and shade, they do not provide complete protection from the winds or storms which blow through our years. We remain vulnerable and "open to the weather of our times", yet we're no longer facing it alone. Instead, marriage becomes a place of belonging and a centre to create a small economy of work, service, and loving thy neighbour.
Below are most stanzas of the poems, a feast for the imagination. *Best read aloud*
The chuppah stands on four poles. The home has its four corners. The chuppah stands on four poles. The marriage stands on four legs. Four points loose the winds that blow on the walls of the house, the south wind that brings the warm rain, the east wind that brings the cold rain, the north wind that brings the cold sun and the snow, the long west wind bringing the weather off the far plains. Here we live open to the seasons. Here the winds caress and cuff us contrary and fierce as bears. Here the winds are caught and snarling in the pines, a cat in a net clawing breaking twigs to fight loose. Here the winds brush your face soft in the morning as feathers that float down from a dove’s breast. Here the moon sails up out of the ocean dripping like a just washed apple. Here the sun wakes us like a baby. Therefore the chuppah has no sides. It is not a box. It is not a coffin. It is not a dead end. Therefore the chuppah has no walls. We have made a home together open to the weather of our time. We are mills that turn in the winds of struggle converting fierce energy into bread. O my love O my love we dance under the chuppah standing over us like an animal on its four legs, like a table on which we set our love as a feast, like a tent under which we work not safe but no longer solitary in the searing heat of our time.
Drinking in all the oddities and beauties around me.