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The Hebrew word for “soul” means “breath”


The soul is the breath
     of Life of Death.
Death breathes the soul Life
     breathes the soul.

When the soul travels it travels
     from the lips of Life
to the lungs of Death
     to the lungs of Life

from the lips of Death
     trailing the very faintest fragrance
the fragrance of Death breathing Life of Life
     breathing Death.

For the soul this is unpleasant.
     She longs to be too
alive to die
     too dead to live

but only the body can die
     only the body can live
and the soul is only faintly aware
     that the bodies

through which she passes
     as she passes
through Life through Death
     bow before her

like blades of grass
     before the unbowed wind.


by Joy Ladin

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