by Michael Cantor
Among the ultra-Orthodox, the eruv line
surrounds a circumscribed community, confined
by fences, walls, and twisted lengths of plastic twine.
Here, the certitudes of God, of man and mind,
rotate and swirl about each other in a ring
of tightly argued logic; here, wise rebbes string
out meditations on the nature of each string
and knot that forms the tzitzit: kabbalistic line
of calculations follows line until the ring
of bearded mystics poking at each word can find
their truths and proofs. And here, though none have undermined
the Sabbath laws, the laws may deftly intertwine
and bend within the eruv’s boundaries, as twine
will stretch to meet new needs. But Saturdays, the string
bikinis shining by the green-blue sea remind
observant boardwalk walkers that the eruv line
that runs along Miami Beach is less defined,
more serpentine; that here a woman’s diamond ring
may navigate her waist and hips, that cell phones ring
on Shabos, almost-naked joggers sweat white wine.
Among the skull caps, curls and caftans, unrefined
touristas slouch: Latinos, Russians, gangsters. String-
thin Asian fashion models navigate their in-line
skates past beaver-hatted dandies; none pay mind
as women in their Hermes scarfs and sheitels mind
long ranks of strollers. Further south, the nipple ring
personifies the Beach. The smoke, the toke, the line
of coke, the all-night clubs where genders can entwine
in every combination: now a gleaming string
of dancers roams the floor, and calls, and seeks to find
more players for a game that’s not yet been defined—
but none here come here with Kabbala on their mind.
The eruv scene becomes a painting where a string
of half-mad sages link their arms to form a ring
around the moon. Freed from their bounds and binds of twine,
they rise like eagles, soaring in a graceful line.
And rapt with string, or drugs, or wine, strong voices ring
across the earth-bound line. Can madmen help us find
that place where man and God and mind may intertwine?