a new posting from poet/educator, Sarah Antine, who’ll be leading a talk-back on Wednesday, June 2nd following the 7:30 performance:
Before immersing in the mikvah, one has to remove anything that isn’t attached as part of you. I remove my make-up, my nail polish, cut my nails, comb out all the loose strands of my hair, scrub off all the dirt, loufa the souls of my feet, clean my ears, nose and mouth. I unhook the earings from my ears, take off my watch and wedding rings, if I was someone else, I’d take out my contacts, or take off my hair covering, until I am without pretense, without illusion. I take off my outer layers, my clothes; I leave my intricate snail’s shell behind me.
I have nothing left to block me from the mikvah attendant’s careful eye. If she is respectful, I feel taken care of, attended to. It is up to her: She can create a safe space or she can create a place that increases my feelings of vulnerability. She has that power, because she is dressed and because she dictates the rules of the mikvah.
She is the last impediment, the last thing I take off.
If she is polite, she raises the towel like a high curtain between us.
Only I enter the short stairway in –
the warm water greets me like a flowing skirt, like a loose flowing dress.
I sumberge. For a moment I am weightless, in utero, I come up for air, recite the blessing.
I am like beach glass smoothed by these waters.
It has taken years to become beach glass.