Prayer after the Bombing

A Prayer After the Boston Marathon Bombing


Plant your feet firmly on the ground, your head
held high as though by a string.

Listen to the red-winged blackbirds, the spring frogs.
There is an aquifer in your heart: send a dipper down.

What have you drawn forth? Send it
out of this room like waves of song.

Float it around the Hairpin Turn, along
the old Mohawk Trail. Direct it toward the rising sun.

Our hearts are in the east though we are in the west.
Blanket the wounded city with melody.

Sing to the runners with aching hamstrings to the bewildered families who lined the marathon route

to the children who are trying to make sense
to the adults who are trying to make sense

to the EMTs and policemen who ran
not away from the suffering, but into the fire

sing to the grieving families, here and everywhere.
Inhale again, reach into your well: is there light

even for the twisted soul of the bomber?
Now sing to yourself, sluice your own wounds.

We are loved by an unending love.
Listen to the birds again, and remember.

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat writes:

I wrote this prayer a few days after the Boston Marathon bombing. It arose out of a meditation service which I led at my synagogue. The doors to our sanctuary were open, so we had the sounds of the nearby wetland in our ears, and I invited the meditators to join me in cultivating compassion and sending it toward Boston.

The line “My heart is in the east and I am in the west” is adapted from the medieval Spanish poet Judah haLevi.

Alternating stanzas of the poem are italicized to facilitate reading the poem as a responsive reading. Please feel free to use this however is meaningful to you, and to share it with others.

To those for whom it is meaningful, I wish a Shabbat shalom, a Shabbat of peace and healing.

This prayer was first posted at Velveteen Rabbi.

Photo by David Verzi
Photo by David Verzi

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat was ordained by ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal, in 2011. She serves Congregation Beth Israel in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. She is a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, and is author of two collections of poems, 70 faces and the forthcoming Waiting to Unfold. Find her online at