Ode to Tsuris

Why the compulsion to write? Misieracordia. Stiff words upright nursing wounds. When a word sings surely it inhales some of God. The first word singing was tsuris: gnats, lice, flies, locusts, hail, chummy death moving in next door. That man or woman who invented tsuris is always beside me on a carved, tall, wooden bench where we raise a doubtful hymn.

Write so you can sing what the words sing. The tsuris notes will not be light. In his poem “Memorial Day” Yehuda Amichai wrote:

Memorial day.  Bitter salt is dressed up

as a little girl with flowers.

The streets are cordoned off with ropes,

for the marching together of the living and the dead.

Children with a grief not their own march slowly,

like stepping over broken glass.

The flautist’s mouth will stay like that for many days.

A dead soldier swims above little heads

with the swimming movements of the dead,

with the ancient error the dead have

about the place of the living water.

 

Tsuris will not grace me with affection. It will not march me to the living water. It will nonetheless fill my throat and keep me upright. It fills my little head with appreciations I can scarcely name.