A Week Ago

His eyes lingered just a moment too long
focused on the heads of my husband and son
their kippahs casually sitting there
a week ago, I wouldn’t have noticed
now, a chill ran down my spine

He was normal
we were in a store
were his eyes hard, predatory?
or did he even notice us?
I say nothing to my husband, but walk a little quicker

A week ago, I wore a scarf over my hair
I went to the grocery store
no thought happened between the two
no pause to consider
this week, it would have been a long pause

My wig could use a washing, but I don’t
what if it takes too long to dry?
a week ago it would have hung to dry days
I might even have forgotten it
but that was a week ago

I see a picture in a camping group
campers setting up their trailer while others look on
a mundane moment, but today I suddenly realize
their faces are so like those reflected in torch light
a week ago, they would have seemed friendly

A week ago, my Rabbi’s cautions seemed radical
as if I knew the people I was born to better than he
how dangerous could tzitzits being seen be?
why should our men and boys wear ballcaps?
now I turn to him for wisdom

The storm seemed so far away
a week ago was a lifetime ago
I tell my proud son not to doodle stars of David
not where they can be seen
I try to tell myself little has changed

But it has.
I struggle to understand, to grasp
to measure my response as the ground shifts
the world changed from that a week ago
and I wonder how I must change, too

What is too much?  What is not enough?
what is giving in and what is provoking?
and does it really matter?
questions that are hard to answer
that weren’t even in my mind a week ago.

I am no less proud, no less determined
no less aching to be fully Jewish
but I am more cautious, more guarded
I have been awakened with an ice bath
never to slumber innocently as I did a week ago

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