Let All Who Mourn Now Rise
The mourner’s kaddish is mostly Aramaic, which hardly anyone understands anymore. It doesn’t matter what it means. Of course it does. A grave is a groove: let all who mourn now rise.
YIT GA DAL V’ YIT KA DASH SH’ MAY RA BA. B’ AL MA DEE VRA CHEE RHOO TAY V’ YAM LICH MAL CHOO TAY B’ CHA YEY CHON OOV YO MAY CHON OO V’ CHA YAY D’ CHOL BEIT YIS RA EL B’A GA LA OO VEEZ MON KA REEV. V’EEM ROO AH MEYN. Y’ HEY SHMEY RA BA M’VO RACH LE A LAM OO L AL MAY AL MA YAH. YIT BA RACH V’YISH TA BACH V’YIT PA AR V’ YIT RO MOM V’YIT NA SEH V’YIT HA DAR V’YIT AH LEH V’YIT HA LAL SH’ MEY DE KOO DE SHA. BRICH HOO. L’ EY LA MEEN KOL BIR CHA TA V’ SHEE RA TA TOOSH B’ CHA TA V’ NEH CHE MA TA DEE AH MEE RAHN B’ AL MA. V’ EEM ROO A MEYN. Y’ HEY SHLA MA RA BA MEEN SHMA YA V’ CHA YEEM AH LEY NOO V’ AL KOL YIS RA EL. V’ EEM ROO A MEYN. O SEH SHA LOM BEEM RO MAV HOO YA A SEH SHA LOM A LEI NOO V’ AL KOL YIS RA EL. V’EEM ROO A MEYN.
It is not about the one being mourned. It praises the One, though no one praying really believes he’s One, since prayer means transmission and reception, which means there is more than one. Call it distinction if you prefer. Or talking to oneself, or are we.
At the funeral everyone recites it. On anniversaries of deaths only those in active mourning do. Whether you’re in active mourning isn’t up to you. There are layered channels of rulings. Depending on family proximity, one mourns actively a week or month or year. Distance is almost always time.
In some synagogues one may stand up to recite when signaled by the phrase “Let all who mourn now rise.” Others will want to look around to see who’s stood. Later they might talk about it.
Primates may have developed chit-chat as a social glue to complement mutual grooming. Most of what we say is filler. Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean anything; it means it means everything.
In my family we used to call the mucous gluey sleep pooled in the eye corners matter.
In The Thin Man I read “cell phone” for “cellophane,” and for “equal measure,” “squeamish.”
One memorizes sounds somehow, repeats them now in unperfected unison. Voice cracks or breaks when what the words mean is too much for one. Say it for sound. Standing at their cushiony seats, a bristly plush, individuals are almost but not quite singing. Individual because they cannot be divided any further. The saying-so of sounds can assure one of particularity.
Underwater recordings show that thousands, even tens of thousands, of male South African clawed frogs fall silent while a single one sings. What’s in the nature of the silencing song that makes the competing songsters stop we don’t know, says neurobiologist Darcy Kelley. She also says with some excitement, “These guys have emancipated their sound production from air flow.”
Mastro quoting Mackay says dolphin sounds include “blats, bleats, chirps, clicks, creaks, pulses, quacks, racs, rasps, squeals, squawks, wails, and whistles.”
I dreamed or dreamt of hearing Casals play in person: squeaks, chirps, and a gutsy, talky fibrousness.
From the flowerbeds, alongside the wet peagravel by the wooden front door on the elongated ranch-style brick house, squat bullfrogs used to make a crunchy, creamy, moist but scraping sound. Maybe they still make it, but I only hear it from before.
A place can be pleasing or to run from.
There seems to be a such a thing as time. There’s a motion of reveal and conceal between parcels or planes that face each other inside a mind’s pleated room.
Blue jays in the backyard of the Houston house called out calcium notes dipped in thick fluidity. Lifted out, they left momentary vacuums and rippled outward through the oaks. The sky was purplish, grainy, wide. The swimming pool was lighted. Bamboo grew through the chainlink fence along the property line. Then and now, I think, are mirrors inside the meat. Flaws are their footholds.
At Miami International Airport a woman said, “I thought you didn’t speak English.”
A woman said back, “No, no, I speak. Highly, I think.”
Mark Dow's essays and poems have appeared in PN Review, The Paris Review, The New York Times, and LIT. He is the author of American Gulag: Inside US Immigration Prisons (California, 2004) and teaches English at Hunter College in New York.