Elohai Neshama

Elohai Neshama

Oh Infinite,
the soul that You breathed
Into me is pure.

And into us,
breath, upon breath, open
throats: speech

into ears, open
passageways for vibrating 
air, turned again

to breath-- O2
N2, CO2, H2O, micro-- pure
or impure.


Lacking life,
replication begets destruction.
Breath struggles,

besieged, constricted, blocked
by infection,

or by a knee
for nine minutes, on a street in Minnesota
where people breathed

and heard.

Oh Infinite, 

unblock our passageways
that we may be open

to justice.
To peace.


Inspired by the Hebrew morning prayer, Elohai, neshamah shenatata bee tehorah hee whose English translation is "My God, the soul that you breathed into me is pure," this poem is dedicated to the people whose breath has been cut off during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether by the novel coronavirus itself, or in the recent string of killings of African American men and women by law enforcement professionals or (in the case of Ahmaud Arbery of Brunswick, Georgia) by those believing themselves to be law enforcement professionals.
Peaceful protesters at a Justice for George Floyd protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 26, 2020
Image by Fibonacci Blue

Our communities are under pressure. Our country is under pressure. Our world is under pressure. Our sense of truth is under pressure. Let us hold each other up and allow each other to breathe freely.