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Passover -- Poetry by Abby Pasternak

Four years ago, you looked me in the eye and said

you were proud I had done it. You were proud of the 

shawl I wore and the words that drifted on specks

of preschool dust and cremated thirteen-year-old

girls. You were proud of the history and the 

tradition and the verse and the characters each one 

Memorized from recorded intonations used by

a long long line of others in our 

little bay and beyond. You said you were

Proud of who I was becoming.

Yet now your eyes boil with resentment.

I can be anything I want but not that.

So where do you draw the line 

between what you hate and what

you worship. Countless others have 

already argued so maybe think about why I did it 

and why I spoke her name—

Tradition that’s how We stay afloat,

so do not tell me that you hate It. You are one of

us and you cannot hide from the already spilled blood.

You love yourself too much for that.

Maybe You find no meaning, no memory, no merit 

in our petty songs, but You can fly and others cannot,

so tell me which part do You actually hate?

The wine-dipped fates’ thread that

refuses to be snipped; sprinkled with the 

bread-crumb bones of our ancestors;

limb upon limb piled high with determination

and refusal to lay down and sleep soundly and quietly

Or the realization that not-knowing scares the 

dying fuck out of You, and a sewn star cannot save you

from the icy grip of unsurety and ever-twisting 

tree branches of arguments You cannot win. 


Abby Pasternak is a theater and tea lover from California who enjoys knitting, doodling, writing, and John Mulaney specials. She is currently an editor of her school's literary magazine and is a co-lead of the school poetry club. Along with her interest in poetry, she writes short stories and is working on a novel. As a senior, she fears for the upcoming responsibilities of college life but is excited for all of the opportunities it will bring.

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