A Poem for Yom Kippur

An old Jewish folktale says that words are feathers set loose in the wind; once free, you can never take them back. I had forgotten that story. But my words are poison ivy rather than feathers. They seem harmless at first but later they rankle at the skin. I don't know how to keep my thoughts to myself. Gossip is a sin, the rabbis say, lashon hara is vicious and it is something you must repent for. Well, repentance is in my blood. I've thrown bread to ducks and hoped they would swallow my sins. I think about the words I've spat, that I've whispered behind backs, that I've mocked with and complained with and hurt with. I know that I hide behind the things I say like they are stone walls but I wish I could cleanse my tongue. I wish I could stuff those feathers back into the pillow.

This poem is about: 
Me
My family
My community

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