Begging the Angels to Stay

On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Gulf War.

The author recently discovered this poem, which was never published, about the 1991 Gulf War, written shortly after the war, in Efrat, Israel.

She burrows deep into the down

Like a small forest creature

Creating a warm and secure womb for herself

Far from the sound of calming but urgent voices

Far from the soft corner lamp

Creating a world where she will feel



My eldest

With braces and (carefully) tousled curls, somewhat shy and green-eyed

Who helped me carry all the masks, the infant tent

(smelling of rubber and storage)

Barely an adolescent

Called upon to be my sister-mother

With father far away

In uniform, on guard


We hear the first siren

And my fingers tremble

As they unwind and navigate the inanimate strips

As they wet and roll the towel

For the bottom of the door

As they place the ugly death-shields

Over the cheeks I have kissed so often

And tears have run down

The strips tangle in the hair I have stroked

The air falters and hesitates, taken into the nostrils

That God Himself breathed life into.


My little one moves in his sleeper

And reaches out to seek my warmth

I pray for silence

And for slumber

Is he dreaming of softer (“gentler”) times?

Is he dreaming of piercing, rising and falling

Scary sounds?


My step falters

At the threshold of the synagogue

I have brought my little one to welcome

The Sabbath Queen


But we flee at the siren’s scream

And find ourselves again at the threshold of



The all clear sounds, we emerge

And beg the angels

To stay.


Toby Klein Greenwald is an award-winning journalist and theater director.

See Also:

Boxes with Rainbows by Toby Klein Greenwald

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