17th of Tammuz

 17th of Tammuz

17th of Tammuz

The only thing I have
that’s truly worth a thing

is the still, small space
that waits inside

and asks to be seen by no one.

The only thing I know
from the silence

is how to cling 
without words
across a vast, pale floor.

Since the mirror broke

the light plays on us
still, small shards 
a memory dance. 

Without touch 
we find our edges

remember each other 

as we whisper our song 
without breath 

You’re a part of every person
and every person a part of you.


This poem came together a bit like an abstract painting. I don’t think I was entirely conscious of what I was trying to say but felt guided about which words to put where in an overall sense.

Something that was on my mind as I wrote it were some words from Rebbetzin Tzipporah Heller-Gottlieb in a class I had heard years ago, about the 17th of Tammuz – a fast day in the Jewish calendar that marks the beginning stages of the destruction of the Holy Temple.

I don’t remember all the details, but I believe she was quoting a friend who had gone through a personal tragedy.

The words were: “We are all broken vessels.”

And that has stayed with me. Just the idea that we find ourselves in this world, post-destruction, post-tragedy… broken pieces in a broken world – but we remember that it wasn’t always this way.

We were once all part of something whole and cohesive – and we still are, if we can only find our way back to each other.

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