Antonio Litterio/Wikipedia

Interfaith Journal Offers 30 x 30 Poetry Challenge

By Kimberly Burnham

In honor of April and National Poetry Month, Tiferet Journal has set out a poetry challenge: 30 poems in 30 days. Every day 16 poets get a prompt from Tiferet, an interfaith literary journal with a mission to foster creative expression and interfaith tolerance.

Day three celebrated Passover with a quote from Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlav, “The Exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, in every era, in every year, and even in every day.”

Day five’s prompt on Easter began with a quote from Frederich Buechner, “Resurrection means the worst thing is never the last thing.”

The Birth of Compassion is my poem from Day 19. The prompt was to write a Villanelle, which is a French poetry form with a rhyming and very specific format, where two of the lines repeat. My lines took inspiration from C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves: “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself …””

The Birth of Compassion

Words “what you too?” unmasking likeness
we two hand in hand facing with courage
I thought I was the only one here in the darkness


Similarity and companionship at its finest
you and I rally each other when discouraged
words “what you too?” unmasking likeness


Mirroring each one seen priceless
sharing the baggage
I thought I was the only one here in the darkness


Finding common ground in oneness
never alone having to manage
words “what you too?” unmasking likeness


Together facing each crisis
no us or them rather a community package
I thought I was the only one here in the darkness


Sitting quietly as the sun rises
illuminating the path ahead forging collectively the passage
Words “what you too?” unmasking likeness
I thought I was the only one here in the darkness


Day 16’s prompt was to write a poem about longing and fit in with my moving to a new house this month.


She doesn’t remember
the last time
she moved
a six year old now
the earth has circled the sun
five times since then


Why are you hiding
the tea cups
she questions
as I wrap each one
carefully placing them
in the moving box


And I wonder what am I hiding
with this move
the remembered pain
of past moves
too many to count
so much stuff


I commit to having less
to hide
in future boxes


It is a lot of work to move
she says picking each colorful magnet
off the apartment fridge
can I have this one in my room
in the new house
and just as easily she says
do you think we will ever move again


Thinking of the thirty or so houses
in five countries on four continents
I have lived in since I was her age
I say maybe not

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