Mikveh (attest to Infinite Affliction) (poem)

Here it is

this ritual bath

this Mikveh

magnificently Roman

a thousand years old

in Speyer

this important city

for the Jewish community

in the Middle Ages


here they are

this deep staircase

these flowered columns

these steps marked with the footsteps

of so many past bodies

of this immense

and infinitely wounded

but still vivid



here it is

these deep waters

in which these bodies

infinitely purified themselves

to bind themselves to

the infinite texts

of the Jewish tradition

read there

back then

nearby in the Synagogue

whose rose and white ruins


near the Mikveh


but visiting such a memorial place

here in Germany

orients my body

toward the Infinite Affliction

facing the More than Infinite

Horror of the


and of the endless pogroms

across History


and I feel faint

facing the More than Infinite Horror

of impossible words


what could I call 

this ?


and how could I talk about this Mikveh

without talking

about what cannot be named ?


and without mentioning

about my goy life in 2022

my nights of cold nightmares

after this visit?


then I

need to attest

to my Infinite Affliction

facing the More than Infinite


that is



in the shadow of History

and that haunts our nights

as it haunts and dims

the marvelous light

of this beautiful autumn day

in Speyer

just as it always will

haunt and dim

this light

and us


Dedicated to Benjamin Lévy

Version française du poème:


Thanks to Jamie McPartland for the rereading.

She’s a writer and editor. Here is an interview about her work:

Meet Jamie McPartland, 2022 Oregon Literary Fellow

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