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Ash borer caution poster with big craft eye glued on, UMass AmherstWant a ride to the other side

of your vision of me

so you can see who I really am?

Beyond a fanciful procession of animals

entering the ark

bathed in light?

I’m a head that’s one-third eyes

a winged body that can soar

power hides within

I’m eyes of the horse

round and profound

a sense of recognition of things beyond

a crocodile who sees your emotional world

with healing power

and a sense of humour

my leopard’s third eye searches the unknown

with faith and courage

for what will emerge

my cat-black iris and white slit pupil

look out with poise and interest.

There’s nothing to understand

it’s all about eyes

revealing nothing but more eyes

reflecting my searching eye

as you stare back through the deer’s vital eye

into the mythical world beyond

the red circle you thought was sun at sunset

recalls the ball of yarn and the blood

of those lost in the labyrinth

you see the ram fearful and alone

then as brave intermediary

honoured by animal deities

complementary coloured ravens

bring light to the people

as night wakens to day

and day bleeds into night

not everyone has the same vision

the part offered up readily

is a distraction

look to the subtle background.

We long for nature without danger

like a child’s storybook

toddlers and animals with no malice

across a chasm from adults

boy and coyote intermingled

a wondrous shared life energy

a land on which creatures stand

another creature itself

all the earth, God’s sacred mount

I want to stand with her

and take in the beauty and peace

of endless water

so I think about my static suppositions

as the sky turns ominously dark

offering a feeling of comfort.

How can I thank you for all that has been created?

Just a miracle would suffice

but you also create a future.

Yes, I hide my eggs everywhere

my tadpoles bloom in every puddle

I am the leaping, soft mystery of life

you hesitate to touch


Image: photo by Laura Duhan-Kaplan. Detail of a poster warning against the ash borer beetle, onto which someone has pasted a giant craft jiggly eye, now reflecting the photographer.

Poem: Written by members of the ALEPH Kallah class “Animals as Jewish Spiritual Teachers,” July 2018. After studying animals in Torah and midrash, we contemplated artistic images of various animals, and wrote our responses. Each class member contributed a sentence; Laura edited them together.

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