Women in the Torah: Chronicle poetry contest winners
PoetryThree winning poems

Women in the Torah: Chronicle poetry contest winners

"Sabbath Bride," by David Brent; "Eve Visits Our Synagogue’s Art Exhibit," by Cathleen Cohen; and "Coins," by Daniel Shapiro

(Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay)
(Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay)

The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle thanks all those who submitted poems to its poetry contest. This month’s theme was “Women in the Torah.”

Our judge was award-winning poet Philip Terman. Terman is the author of several full-length and chapbook collections of poems, including “This Crazy Devotion” (Broadstone Books) and “Our Portion: New and Selected Poems, The Torah Garden” (Autumn House Press). His poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Poetry Magazine, The Kenyon Review, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Poets and 101 Jewish Poets for the Third Millennium. He’s a retired professor of English from Clarion University, where he directed the Spoken Art Reading Series. He is a co-founder of the Chautauqua Writer’s Festival.

Winners of the Chronicle’s poetry contest are David Brent, Cathleen Cohen and Daniel Shapiro. In addition to their poems being published below, each winning poet received a $54 gift card to Pinkser’s Judaica, courtesy of an anonymous donor for whose generosity we are grateful.

Sabbath Bride
The winter-bare trees stand stark against a luminous sky
Which looks back at me in my rear-view mirror
Like a tired eye,
about to close.
I say goodbye to the week and hurry home
To step inside my safe place, my nest, my sanctuary.

The candles lit, the table set, the kiddush cup is filled with wine.
My daughter gurgles on my lap and receives her blessing,
Countenance glowing.
We greet the Sabbath Queen with song;
I thank my tired woman of valor:
Grace and beauty pass, and so does time.
Here, I remember, we’re getting older, week by week.

But, during Kiddush, time seems to stand still.
The miracle of Creation, our past,
And the sanctity of this quiet time
are all recounted in an ancient chant.
Our hands are washed.
The silence afterwards signals that we’ve crossed
the threshold to a holy place.

Bread is taken. The meal is served.
Then, drowsy from food and wine,
Having reviewed the week and found it good,
We sing of sheaves that we may reap,
And leave the candles, glowing in the dark
That flame and flicker until we sleep.

David Brent

Eve Visits Our Synagogue’s Art Exhibit
We’ve hung portraits,
mostly of young men murdered
by guns, not swords,
some at random, some with aimed anger.

Half are titled:
Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
Eve would shout, YES!
had she been given

more words in Torah, more voice.
But I hear her breathe
as she circles, peering at souls
beloved and lost.

Here are paintings of Cain and Abel,
flowing bullets and blood,
those who stood at the wrong corner
or lost hope.

Eve chants kaddish with us
then lifts her gaze from prayer
to touch our shoulders. Do more,
make more peace, she urges,

mother of garden,
of earth, bone and flesh,
mother of rivalrous children, but also
of future, of us.

Cathleen Cohen

The little girl’s grandfather could not speak
Torah anymore, but gave her coins each time she visited.
One night the little girl stayed with her grand-
father and watched him die. The next day
she took all her coins to the river near his house.
She walked over the bridge and threw the coins
in. For years she returned to the bridge
looking into the river for her coins. Sometimes
she thought she could see them. But usually they looked
as though they might be fish, sleeping very still
under the bridge.

Daniel Shapiro

read more: