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Atonement Missed

The Chief Rabbi and my father

met in a dream one night

we arrived for Kol Nidrei in a car

which was not the Chief Rabbi’s habit

but he didn’t complain

merely discussed the world

with my father


We tried to find a parking spot

but all the neighbors had placed

in the street garbage cans

which were filled with the world’s woes


So my father parked next to the shul

but the Chief Rabbi didn’t complain

he stood on the sidewalk, stroked his beard

and started to sing Kol Nidrei


Then my father (not a pious man)

spoke with the neighbors

who emptied their garbage into a truck

that the Chief Rabbi was driving,

when the truck was full of

grief, prayer and atonement

the Chief Rabbi drove off


Leaving my father and me

on a deserted sidewalk

outside a deserted shul

discussing the state of the world


Which, as he died more than

thirty years ago, makes it

a rather repetitious conversation

with all the important things

left unsaid


Like a carousel with a broken section

that the neighbors had loaded into the Rabbi’s truck

and taken away with them

to the garbage dump of dreams


Where every Day of Atonement

it emits the most frightful cries

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© Johnmichael Simon



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