“Morning Minyan” by Marcia Falk


An original work by a highly acclaimed poet, professor, translator, and Judaic scholar.

by Marcia Falk

Marcia Falk’s groundbreaking prayer book, The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival (Harper Collins, 1996; paperback edition, Beacon Press, 1999), re-created Hebrew and English liturgy in poetic forms from a contemporary, gender-inclusive perspective. Her classic verse translation of the biblical Song of Songs was released in 2004 in a new edition, The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible (HBI Series on Jewish Women, Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England). Her most recent book, The Spectacular Difference: Selected Poems of Zelda (Hebrew Union College Press, 2004), is the first full-length English translation of the poetry of twentieth-century mystic Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky. We are thrilled this esteemed poet shared with us the following original poem.


A quorum of small black birds
settles on the birch outside my window:
ten of them, enough to pray
the most sacred prayers.
Whom do they beseech,
for what do they pray
with their too-toos and dee-dee-dees?
Do they ask for grace?
Cannot be. They already have it.
Do they seek forgiveness? For what?
They cannot help but do what birds do.
Do they need healing?
Perhaps one of them has broken a wing?
Or are they singing the praises of the Creator?
Of the creation?
Of the many ilks and varieties of birds?

I would like to stay and find out
but I have no time this morning.
No time no time no time no time chants my species.

Dit-dit-dit, dit-dit-dit, dit-dit-dit-dit
cry the birds as they fly away.

copyright © Marcia Falk
“Morning Minyan” appeared in The Addison Street Anthology: Berkeley’s Poetry Walk, eds. Robert Hass and Jessica Fisher (Heyday Books, 2004).

About the Author

Marcia Falk
Marcia Falk, a graduate of Brandeis University, was a Fulbright Scholar in Bible and Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and returned there a few years later as a postdoctoral fellow. For 15 years, she was a university professor, teaching Hebrew and English literature, Jewish studies, Bible, and creative writing at Stanford, the State University of New York at Binghamton, and the Claremont Colleges. Her work has been published widely in magazines and anthologies in the United States and abroad.

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