The Master of the Good Name

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The Master of the Good Name
who only lived for prayer,
trembled by the holy ark
because a Name so pure
was more than a body could bear.
The Master of the Good Name
saw each word in his prayer
as another Noah’s Ark,
of wings, wild cries and tusks
that he entered in his fear.

Said the Master of the Good Name,
–the Good Name that can’t be spoken–
every word is broken,
a wave against black rock
whose lacy fingers cannot hold.
If it’s only a human grammar
that a name can ever name
every word is a death
that falls away to nothing
which is no good name.
Rodger Kamenetz is a poet, author, and teacher. His best known book is The Jew in the Lotus.