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The Escort Service Named Levayah

A Poem by Estha Weiner


Hundreds of mourners at the Brooklyn, N.Y. funeral of a Hasidic rabbi in April

In Judaism, mourners are considered

to be escorting the dead



Hebrew for ‘funeral,’

for ‘funeral,’ for ‘accompany,’

accompany him or her

to the grave.

No rabbi, no cemetery

worker buries the dead. I do,

you do, we do,

he does, she does, they do,

those in sorrow,

those surrounding the sorrow

honor their bond

with the beloved, gone.

Return the beloved

quickly to the earth,

to its able arms.

The earth will escort

now: the dead

will not be alone.

We will.



Estha Weiner's newest poetry collection is at the last minute (Salmon Poetry, 2019). She is also author of In the Weather of the World (Salmon Poetry), Transfiguration Begins at Home (Tiger Bark Press), The Mistress Manuscript (Asheville Book Works), and co-editor/contributor to Blues For Bill: A Tribute to William Matthews (University of Akron Press). Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, including The New Republic and Barrow Street. Winner of a Paterson Poetry Prize and Visiting Scholar to the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford, England, Estha is the founding director of Sarah Lawrence N.Y. Alumni Writers Nights, and serves on the Advisory Committee of Slapering Hol Press, Hudson Valley Writers Center. She is a professor in the English Department of City College of N.Y, CUNY, and Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute.

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