Tess

I sat near the entrance to the Fine Arts Library
And as though
Through the grace of God on this Holy day – this conclusion
Of the Festival of Booths –
You happened upon the table adjacent mine.

You began to read a worn copy of Yang’s Semiotic Warfare.

I watched as your hazel eyes danced
Behind thick rimmed glasses
Glancing at me,
Perhaps, on occasion,
Though in the impurity of ostracization
From the Holy Temple –
“Oh, Holiest Temple on high”
As its destruction was recounted by the great prophet Jeremiah
And the delineative of my peoples’ exile
That has long since plagued our beings –
I was not and am not on a level
Of hallowed sanctity as to meet in the
Consensual instance of your angelic gaze.

Who am I to regard thou as one of His fallen servants?
Who even am I, on this day of historic recollection
To dwell in this library with you should you not be one of His?
And as I watch
Now, in self-doubtful inquisition
Hoping to catch your gaze
That has long since been entranced
Within the tango of text before you,
I understand that you are not compelled by
The Chinese Avant-Garde as it was between the years of 1979-1989
You, angel, are worldly
You are of the same omniscience as our Creator
And in these moments
I have been drawn to you
As the sages have taught to be drawn close to religion
Through fear.

I stare onward
As you glide on bruised wings across the room.
You struggle with the copy machine and
Despairingly re-collect yourself at the screen of your laptop
(Glancing at me again?)
You have not been in this world long
Given your technological inexperience
Though,
As I would later discover from the young woman,
The library assistant
At the front desk,
You are a fifth year literary student
And in the mutual appreciations that I have assigned to you
For this, I love you all the more.

My courage has dwindled
And when you return to your seat
I open my mouth to speak
Whispering gently the words that will unite us
As one whispers the names of the angels of salvation
Upon the Day of Atonement during which
All fate is decided.
This, in my experience, is the only way to attain the Divine Providence
This is the only way to have my prayers answered.

You do not hear me.

You gather your things
Returning your books to their shelves
With the delicacy of the Scriptures –
A literary student indeed –
And as you ascend to the check-out desk
I struggle to reach you, to ask for your name
But my legs have been cemented in the brick and mortar
Of the times of Egyptian slavery
You do not save me
I remain still, seated
You leave

The Commentators teach that to every individual there are
seven romantic pathways.
As we traverse through life
We encounter such instances, each leading to a separate outcome.
How, when the moment arrives,
Do we perceive such chance?
The difference between a life well-lived and that
Of only partial potential
Is the ability to derive opportunity in situations
Such as casual passing-bys at the campus library
For on this holy day, Tess
As the library assistant later proclaimed you,
God placed you near me in temptation
Before holding my feet to the ground as a reminder
Of greater pathways to come.

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