I Have Sought You

Boy have I sought you
All the days of my life with an intensity
To outmatch the sun’s
Yet till now have never found you

Even though I have studied the desert sands,
The ocean’s waves and high mountain trails,
Although I thought I saw you
Among the prairie flowers and swampy rushes

And then one morning
Searching the airy atoms
That permeate the early-morning breeze
Flowing through the window and across my nostrils—

There I swear I found you
At long last in the very breath
Going in and out of my body
There at last I found you

Really, whom I have sought all my life
In earth’s every faraway corner,
Near and far
In the heavens and beyond

I now watch you
Watching me in a simple
Artless way, propelled by something beyond,
Rising and falling on our own

Clouds high above
Lined with
Celestial visions
And lost music

Early, before the sun rises, I listen
To the robins and jays,
You, my soul, you
My breath, just You. . . .

© 2015 Henry Rasof

This piyyut, or Jewish liturgical poem, is a reshut to nishmat, meaning it precedes the Shabbat morning nishmat prayer, which begins: “The breath of every living being shall bless Your name. . . .” The linking word between the poem and the prayer is nishmat, “breath.” The poem is a name acrostic–the first letter of each stanza is the letter of a name, in this case that of my late mother, Beatrice, who, though not conventionally religious, loved nature–especially birds–and was a poet among other things.

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About Henry Rasof

I have been writing poetry for over fifty years. During this time, I have worked as a musician, chef, book acquisitions editor, and creative-writing instructor.

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