August 19th

“Good shabbos. You’re new here, right?
I think we met last month.”

The mikvah lady looks at me

I sigh to myself.
We did not meet last month.

We met fourteen days ago, to be exact.

Because this state called
slips through my fingers
like the warm mikvah waters.

I can’t seem to grasp it
for more than a short while
before it pools at my feet
and I must spin around,
than I should,
to journey backwards
and count the days over
to reclaim this holy purity
once more.

Nine trips to the mikvah,
Three tearful cancellations,
six months married.

Too many doctors
Who furrow their brow,

I alternate
which mikvah I use
so the attendants don’t whisper.

But shabbos night gives me away.

When the other women dance home to their loves
I run from this curse
Praying I reach my husband
Before it reaches me.

This breath of impurity
has been hissing at my heels
from the moment I rose from
the mikvah water
two weeks ago.
It darts at my feet and
I lurch forward,
but it’s only a matter of time before it outsmarts me.

It’s a game, really.
A game of counting
and wearing black
and turning my eyes away
despite knowing
what’s ahead.

It’s a race I can’t win.
How long before I lose my breath?

Mikvah lady,
we’ll meet again.
Not too soon I hope.

Every time,
I pray that this time will be different.
That this envied state of purity
won’t depart
as soon as it arrives.

At home sits my poor, sweet husband,
who waits
and waits
and waits

And holds me
without touching.

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