Fiction, or: Fact

A Crystalline

My daughter was three-and-a-half
when Papa unexpectedly died.

She had no concept of death then;
by four-and-a-half, she did... a bit.

"Is it right that my grandfather died?"
She asked once, on the way to shul.

I had been reciting kaddish
for Papa every day for a year.

All those months, I'd tried to explain it,
pointing out fallen leaves to her.

Time passed. She started watching movies.
Some characters died - and stayed dead.

Her understanding became deeper;
"Nothing lasts forever," I said.

Not daily, but every so often,
she began thinking about death.

She's nearly seven-years-old now.
Death has become truly frightening.

Randomly, out of the blue, she'll turn,
saying, "I don't want you to die."

"Don't worry," I respond, smiling
falsely and overly cheerfully.

"I'm not an 'old' man yet," I tease,
knowing I could die any minute.

What’s a Crystalline?

  • A complete couplet. Either standing alone or written in any number of couplets;
  • Syllabic, 17 syllables;
    • Regular: 8/9 or 9/8 syllables per line;
    • Irregular: broken where appropriate, other than the 8-9/9-8 regular form;
  • Written with English grammatical rules of syntax, caps and punctuation;
  • At the poetโ€™s discretion, written with poetic devices (rhyme, onomatopoeia, metaphor…);
  • Composed with a โ€œcutโ€ or pivot, most often between L1 and L2.


Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

66 thoughts on “Fiction, or: Fact”

  1. Oh, that conflict of wanting to protect, but needing to prepare. You capture life so well in your poems. โ™ฅ

    1. I don’t need to understand, per se… I just wish my baby wouldn’t worry about it, but I know that there’s nothing I can do about that, Terveen…


  2. tearing up reading…

    “”Don’t worry,” I respond, smiling
    falsely and overly cheerfully.

    “I’m not an ‘old’ man yet,” I tease,
    knowing I could die any minute”

    such a wonderful expression of assurance and assurance.. ๐Ÿ’–

  3. Yeah, on Death. Kids come to form ideas on what it is and soon fear itโ€™ll happen to their parents.
    You did well to appease with your little white lie. We all do that. How else?
    Be well. I wish you miracles. Xo

  4. As you know, that “I don’t want you to die” will never go away. The trick is how not to let it be overwhelming. Because, as you note, it’s always there, that possibility. (K)

    1. ๐Ÿค— Kerfe ๐Ÿค— – yeah… it’s odd, but I can’t seem to recall fearing death as a child… so it’s hard for me to relate to, even though I do understand it.

      1. We were kept away from my grandmother to โ€œspare usโ€ a confrontation with death when she was dying of cancer. That was unfair both to her and her grandchildren who she adored. Even so, I donโ€™t remember obsessing over it.
        My older daughter only became fearful after 9/11, but she was 16 then, and lived through thinking she and all her classmates were going to die. Have you asked your daughter why she is thinking about your death?

          1. I think it would be helpful to know. But there are some things that can’t be reassured away. That would make for a difficult conversation.

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