Carnegie Mellon University

“A Sacrilegious Seder”

First Place for High School Poetry (Tied)

How is this night different from all other nights?
 
On this night, it does not rain. It storms. It downpours outside my window,
the same window that early this morning, my father told me not to look out of,
told me to step away from, because bullets can break glass.
On this night, our country is aching. My neighborhood is aching.
Rose Mallinger’s house down the street is silent and empty,
her son sitting shiva next door.
As the sun sets on Saturday and Shabbot ends,
Orthodox Jews across the nation are turning on their televisions
and learning that their brothers and sisters are dead.
On all other nights, we welcome the feeling of our pillows on our cheeks.
On this night, the moon only solidifies reality, locks the massacre in history,
forces us to wake on Sunday morning and relearn the news,
double over in pain and feel the grief in entirety again.
 
On all other nights, we eat chameitz and matzah. Why on this night, only matzah?
 
On all other nights, we gather as a family and dine together.
On this night, we pull an ancient box leftover from Passover out of the cellar pantry
and try our best to eat.
 
On all other nights, we eat all vegetables. Why, on this night, maror?
 
On all other nights, we are not in the basement at 8:00 p.m. crying over matzah,
but are cooking in the warm kitchen, glasses steaming up over the pot of soup,
scents of dinner wafting through the house.
On this night, we eat no soup,
but instead taste the bitter herb of sadness and loss,
the devastation of tragedy and hate,
the maror of our troubled country’s calloused inhumanity.
 
On all other nights, we don’t dip even once. Why on this night do we dip twice?
 
On all other nights, the only salt at the table is shaken atop our food.
On this night, it falls from our lashes and we dip twice, once for each teary eye.
On this night, we cry for everyone lost today and everyone gone before.
For not only Jews, but for Antwon Rose,
the young black boy killed in East Pittsburgh,
cry for the Mexican children in concentration camps, the Muslims ripped from their families
and deported to a place they may not remember ever calling home.
We cry for death, for the profound disconnect between the shooter and self,
even between neighbor and self.
We cry for how lonely it can feel to be human.
 
On all other nights, we eat either sitting upright or reclining. Why on this night do we all recline?
 
On this night, we recline with each wave of remembrance,
each renewal of reality. We recline in pain. We reel.
On this night, our elders recline, too, in their hospital beds,
in the morgue, on the cold, hard floor of their place of worship.
They will soon recline in their graves, coffins so dark
that the Stars of David around their necks
can’t even catch the moonlight.

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