1. The first prayer I remember was shma ysrael Adonai elohaynu… trailing off into quiet murmurings of twitching lips, children’s hands covering their eyes as they recited the rest of the prayer. Too holy of a moment, in case God decided to appear. You cover your eyes to concentrate, the rabbi reminds us.
  2. Australian raptors carry burning twigs and tree sediment to flush out their prey. I keep misspelling prey as pray. Suppose raptors pray. They ask the forest for mice and voles. They whistle or make a hoarse scream, a holy echo, a trance for their prey to follow. Scientists once believed only humans and lightning could control (perhaps create) fire. Raptors remember fire as a burnt offering.
  1. Once, as everyone recited their devotion to God, I peeked through the slits of my splayed fingers and saw: the bimah with the rabbi peering into his hands, the ark, with its gold and silk covering, open, cradling holy scrolls, the rows of cheap foldable seats, the gum a child stuck to the seat cover, the classmates not wanting to participate staring down at their shoes.
  2. Another rabbi says, you cover your eyes because how can you have complete faith in God,


with all the pain around



  1. The first time the basement flooded, my father ran to the closet filled with suitcases of my mother’s clothing and wept. Beige in color, now a deep-wet clay with black embroidering of her initials, N.M. The water filling the knitting of her clothing, the silk dresses, the scarves full of animals and bright, sunset colors. An offering he never meant to give.
  2. I have a tendency to read warning labels and look up the common side effects of medications obsessively. I never know how my body will react to a moment much less a series of chemicals. We are only chemicals; my best friend reminds me.
  3. When there is a sudden loss of a person or a long-term separation, scientists have found a chemical for grief: corticotropin. It floods the system, a sibling of cortisol, and lights up neural pathways predetermined for depression in the brain.
  4. The first time I heard you are not enough, it must have started a chain reaction, a beginning of corticotropin to bubble in the brain.
  5. The first time my mother prayed, or rather, that I remember, was for shabbat six months before she passed. Two candles in blue and silver ceramic holders. A silk tallit wrapped around her face like a shawl, her hands covering her eyes, as she mouths the words to welcome shabbat. The candles flicker. I’ve always lingered on this memory. How women call in shabbat. How women call in God, call in the light— as a way of making up for Eve’s sin.
  6. How she hoped this was enough.
  7. In Judaism, so much has burned—from books to people to the bush with all its holiness—even offerings left with a smolder and an ache. This grief a burning line through our lineage, a forest caught unaware, as the underbrush blazes.
  8. Hunters or nature enthusiasts use a bird-blind to watch the natural world in action. A tiny slit across metal or wood, like openings in my splayed fingers, offers freedom into a space consumed by bears and voles and foxes, scuttling across the foliage. On occasion birds will land mere feet from the looker. If they are super lucky, a raptor will perch and preen, eyes alert for its next meal, always surveying the topography.
  9. When raptors are kept as pets or caught in the wild, blinders are placed over their eyes. For their own protection. To make them think they’re safe. Much like the rabbi who thinks we’re safe when we close our eyes.
  10. In a leather jacket from the 1970s I inherited from my mother; I found a folded-up sheet of paper. On it she wrote affirmations or maybe reminders or tiny prayers:

I am smart enough

I am good enough

I am pretty enough

  1. If I could name grief, I would call it a jacket, too big for your body. Constantly squirming, trying to wriggle into or out of, fully encapsulated. I am lost in the smell of her perfume and leather. I stand in front of the mirror, my face an angle between slats, the space between prayer fingers. My face her silhouette, slipping.


Minadora Macheret earned her Ph.D. in Poetry from the University of North Texas. She is a poetry editor for The Boiler. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in South Dakota Review, Salamander, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She received the James Merrill Poetry Fellowship from Vermont Studio Center. She is the author of, Love Me, Anyway (Porkbelly Press, 2018). She currently teaches at Norfolk State University and Texas Woman’s University.

Photo by Dinty W. Moore