Collection of Poems
Ode to the Mother of the Bar Mitzvah
By Esther Marilus/Thumim
First printed in Hamodia
Now, as throughout the ages
Children always grow in stages.
First come cries and colic;
Then, they crawl and frolic
Interrupted, sleepless nights –
One of many childhood rites.
Round, bright, sparkling, deep-set eyes
Help bind mother-infant ties.
Newborns can only put and coo,
But oh! The love that’s shining through.
Drinking, dressing, keeping clean –
Time is passing, though unseen.
Big, broad, toothless smile,
Angelic looks, which do beguile.
Juicy-wet kisses and hugs
Compensate for stains on rugs.
Always in motion albeit slow;
Time is passing. Where does it go?
Soon come baby’s first new shoes,
Ushering in those terrible twos.
Now he’s off and running,
He’s become very cunning.
Undetected, never seen –
Time is passing on life’s screen.
Horses without a stable
Play-Doh stuck to every table,
Fingerprints on every glass,
But he’s a joy in every class.
Undetected, never seen –
Time is passing as a dream.
Aleph-beis, the Mishna.
A penny for his puskka
Time is passing, albeit slow,
Shedding childhood as you grow.
Nursery rhymes and ABCs –
He’s also good at climbing trees.
Indeed, the yeasrs have flown;
Just see how much he’s grown.
Joy mixed with a sprinkling of fun,
Memories shared by mother and son.
Tick-tock, tick tock,
‘Tis the chiming of the clock.
Thirteen – he’s now a man,
You marvel how time ran.
New hat, new shirt, new frock –
His door now sprouts a lock.
To enter even you must knock.
Amusing, but still somehow a shock.
Bar mitzvah “men” are quite courageous
Their excitement, quite contagious.
Independence tastes so sweet;
Growing up is really neat.
Always up and out the door,
You hardly see him anymore.
Although that special bond is there,
It’s all right to shed a tear.
History is in the making,
Yet deep down, a heart is aching
For all the prayers and all the fears,
And bygone days, now turned to years.
Happiness is tinged with pain
Will life ever be the same?
Mothers do what mothers may,
But only G-d has the last say.
All the years of love invested,
Are about to be time-tested.
Relationships are never static,
Never smooth, non-problematic.
But as far as one can tell,
So far, you’ve done very well.
Your “baby’s” childhood soon completed,
All your efforts have succeeded.
Well-behaved, yet full of fire,
Who doesn’t love your Chaim Mayer?
Yet, with all due respect, it seems,
It also helps to have great genes.
How can he fail to be “beseder”
With such a bubby, such a zaide?
Blessed with a set of grand-genotypes twice,
No wonder your son has turned out so nice!
Nachas cannot be translated,
An ancient term, not quite outdated,
A sense of pride that’s sentimental,
Happiness, that’s transcendental.
May you reap nachas in the years to come
From this child whose manhood has now begun.
Savor each day as he grows,
Love him so much, that he knows.
Cherish the moment, and the wishes of a friend,
Thirteen marks a start – not only an end.
Mom, I’m Home!
A mother’s bein hazemanim blues remembered
By C.S. Fogel
First published in Hamodia October 18, 2002
Listen, heed my warning:
For though your lives are peaceful now
It will all change by morning.
A storm is fast approaching,
You’ll wish for yesterday.
Tak cover (and a few deep breaths),
It’s heading right your way.
It hits like a tornado,
Or more likey a cyclone.
Yes, bein hazemanim’s here, beware –
The boys are coming home!
“I’m home!” they say,
and dump their stuff
And open the fridge door,
And guzzle quarts of orange juice
Until there is no more!
Their laundry bags are piled up high;
They almost reach the ceiling.
Be careful as you open them
Your senses will go reeling.
I barely recognize
My dining room set anymore,
Each chair wears a jacket,
And the table’s a hat store.
The food supply is endless:
They eat five meals, at least,
Each supper is a banquet,
And each snack becomes a feast.
Consuming dozens of fried eggs
And cereal nonstop,
They empty out each box
Before I say “Snap Crackle Pop!”
I thought up a new tacktic:
Labeled all my cakes “Raw Chicken.”
But they were not fooled – not one bit,
And all day long they’re pickin’!
Two weeks ago I made a roast
For Yom Tov I would save it.
For a late-night snack they thought
It would be nice to microwave it.
“At least they’re clean,” I tell myself
The showers never stop.
They use up all the towels,
And hot water, every drop.
What is that noise I hear?
I think it’s coming from your room.
Oh, Ma, it’s such a feste song,
Our new yeshiva tune.
The phones are ringing off the hook,
“Pick up, this call’s for you!”
But they can’t hear; they’re blasting
Yeedle, Avraham, Shwekey Two.
Their voices tend to rise
At least a decibel or two,
They loudly share their knowledge
Of what’s right and wrong to do.
They need money for a tie and suit
Their shoes are shot, they hurt;
And money for the cleaners
And the Chinese for the shirts.
We have to run my errands,
But it’s just as I had feared;
We go out to the driveway
And the cars have disappeared.
When they (and I) were younger,
I would tuck in all my boys.
But now I say, “When you get home,
Lock up, and don’t make noise.”
A choir of alarm clocks
With music or with chimes
Wake up each one for minyan
From six o’clock till nine.
And then the time that we’ve been wishing for
Arrives too soon,
When suitcases and duffel bags
Crowd up the living room.
And now it’s me at the fridge door
(And though it may seem funny),
I’m begging them to take more food,
And just in case, more money.
I wave good-bye as each one leaves,
And wipe away a tear,
I must admit quite honestly,
‘Twas nice to have them here.
In solitude, I stop and pause
Before their empty room,
And hear that I am softly humming
That yeshiva tune.
Too many quiet hours pass
Until I hear that phone;
“Oh, Tzaddikel, when is the next time
You’ll be coming home?!”
Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy
When I had my fourth boy, my friend came to visit me in the hospital. She brought a small gift, and this adorable poem.
It’s a boy! A bechor, a perfect start
Leiby’s so cute, he just melts your heart
He’s growing and thriving, his quirks so smart
Boy! It’s another boy, two’s better than one
Double trouble, they say, it’s not just a pun
Keep you busy day and night, is this called fun?
Boy oh boy! Another boy? A perfect prize
‘yavo haben hashlishi’, a perfect compromise
Well – as long as the gender isn’t a surprise!
Boy oh boy! A boy? Another boy? Of course
Having boys will never bring remorse!
But you’re running out of names now, of course
A Shalom zachor celebration, not one time but four
A ‘krias shema leinen’, a bris, who needs more
But wait, there’s still much more in store
At three a hair is no small feat
With honey and pekelach – what a treat
And you get a bonus of 4 times – that COULD be beat!
You think it’s enough to make your house alive
They’ll keep you on your toes as they grow and thrive
But wait, before you know it, you might have five!
Bar mitzvah’s will come, but invitations for you are free
No need for fancy dresses or a long shopping spree
Just some white shirts and pants – as easy as can be.
No teenage daughters with laces and frill
Just the tune of Torah – oh what a thrill!
A choir by every Shabbos tisch, never quiet and still!
Every Friday noon, shopping bags all over the place
Filled with smelly mikvah vesh to wash at a quick pace
When you look for shampoo, you won’t find a trace.
Bein Hazemanim grocery bills and cooking over your head
Black hats take up all the seats, even your bed
Missing buttons on bekeshes, never enough black thread!
Builders for your sukkah, you’ll never need to hire,
They’ll kasher your kitchen for Pesach until you perspire
And you’ll have the choicest kaddish sayers when you eventually expire (after 120)
The best part of it all – having daughters-in-law
Behaving your best, ignoring all their flaws
After all, your sons are the greatest – but now you can pause…
Enjoy them now, each and every one
Let every day be filled with laughter and fun
Even when they keep you awake till one…
‘Shetizki legadlam l’Torah l’chuppah ulemaasim tovim’
Okay, some things only a friend can say!
Behind the Curtain
By Esti Bald
First published in Binah Magazine 718 305-5000
You left this morning
In the gray predawn hours
Wearing clothing I did not recognize
I davened for this day
From the time I knew of your existence
Yet once it came
I found that I was not ready
To be left behind
As you join the world of men
I will never truly understand
But as I stood
In the place reserved for me
As you donned your crown for the very first time
I was with you.
And I realized
That although you may go
Places I cannot follow
The cord that connects us is long
And I will always be with you
From the other side
Of the mechitzah
Whose Pants Are These?
By: Esti Bald
Originally Published in Horizons Magazine
These pants could not possible belong to my son.
Not my 5 pound bag of sugar son.
36 inches is much too long for his legs,
His whole body isn’t that long – I have proof,
The crib card says it clearly “Height – 21 inches”
So you see,
There must be a mistake
These pants don’t belong here yet, in my laundry room.
I still need to read “The Cat In The Hat”
And go to the playground
Build imaginary highways
I’m not ready for size 12 pants.
There are so many things I want to do still
With my little boy
So many mistakes that I’ve made
That I want to undo
I need time
Time to cuddle him
To hold him
To protect him a little longer before sending him out into the world
A world where he’ll have to be a man
To leave the house before I’m awake
Some faceless stranger of a school nurse to tend to his scrapes and cuts
To tend only to the hole in his pants.
By Esti Bald
First Printed in Binah Magazine 718 305-5000
Why do I feel so bereft
When I think about
The shearing of my little lamb?
The soft curve of your cheek
The pudgy hand that nestles so perfectly in mind
The cuddles and hugs and love that we share
Are not bound by strands of silky gold,
Yet I fear
That I know will follow,
Can sense it too.
You scorn the brush and ponyholders
That once tamed your tresses
And now prefer your tangles
Tucked behind your ears
And a kappel on top,
It keeps sliding off.
With one small snip,
The great divide
Between Big and Little
Will be crossed,
Will not stand still.
Big dreams for you
My little boy,
But it is so hard
To let you go.
By Peshie Needleman
First printed in Binah Magazine 718 305-5000
As I push the stroller
I watch them from behind –
this muddled mass
of rough-and-tumble boys.
and a couple of six-year-olds
with an eight-year-old thrown in
for good measure.
They talk earnestly,
push each other playfully,
and then stop to examine a
(ugh) dead squirrel in the road.
Trying desperately to out-shout each other.
Mittens flapping, coats falling from shoulders,
one skipping to keep up,
another walking backwards to show off,
one just listeining.
What’s with thse guys?
What makes them tick?
I love this moment
frozen in time
watching my sons and their friends
I can wonder what the future holds for these guys.
I can poinder where each came from and where each is headed.
But I don’t.
I revel in the little-boyness
And it gives me joy.