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Mazel Tov

by Jessica Jacobs

Circular breather, our dog can whine 
without ceasing, his tail thumping the wall 
beside the bed to call me up and out to the yard 
instead. In moonlight, the hydrangeas’  

white blossoms are a zodiac of branch-bound 
constellations. Once, God called Abraham 
out from his tent to the open field to count 
the uncountable lights above, promising  

offspring bountiful as dust, numerous 
as the stars. Like Abraham, I too left 
my land, my birthplace, my father’s house. 
But the closest I have to an offspring  

is lifting his leg at the azalea, nose busy
with the news the night air brings. 
Mazel tov! we say at births and other 
joyous occasions, the Jewish go-to  

for Congratulations! Yet tov means good
and mazelconstellation or destiny
and sometimes, like Abraham, you must 
leave the place that grew you to grow  

toward better stars. In the house, my wife 
is sleeping. Along the fence-top, a procession
of possums reminds that even in darkness 
there are those who can see. Above,  

trees, thick with summer, frame a porthole
of sky. Maybe, though, it’s not always the stars 
that matter but the space between them, 
the lines we draw to shape the absence,  

the lives we forge around what goes missing.
From the deck, the cool breeze makes a festival 
of the silver-lit leaves. Under my palm, 
there’s the warmth of his fur, the rise  

of his ribs. He doesn’t know his kidneys 
are failing, that his muzzle is white 
as the winter our vet has said he will 
not live to see. Like all of us, he is 

dying; like most of us, he doesn’t 
know it. His chin on my leg, he trusts me 
with the weight of his head. So, if I wish 
you, mazel tov, know what I mean is,  

May you find a reason to open 
your door to the dark
. I’ll mean, 
May you live beneath good stars, 
and take the time to notice

Jessica Jacobs is the author of  Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going,  winner of the Devil’s Kitchen and Goldie Awards, and  Pelvis with Distance,  winner of the New Mexico Book Award. Chapbook editor for  Beloit Poetry Journal,  she co-authored  Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire  with her wife, Nickole Brown. 

Header image: Azalea Bush, Pat Canova / Alamy Stock Photo, January 30, 2017, Fort White, Florida.

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