First edition | poetry

First Edition features new original works by Northern California Jewish writers. Appearing the first issue of each month, it includes a poem and an excerpt from a novel or short story.

Morning Minyan

by marcia falk


A quorum of small black birds

settles on the birch outside the window:

ten of them, enough to pray

the most sacred prayers.

Whom do they beseech,

for what do they pray

with their too-toos

and dee-dee-dees?

Do they ask for grace?

Cannot be. They already have it.

Do they seek forgiveness? For what?

They cannot help but do what birds do.

Do they need healing?

Perhaps one of them has broken a wing?

Or are they singing praises of the Creator?

Of the creation? Of the many ilks and

varieties of bird?

You would like to stay and find out

but you have no time this morning.

No time no time no time no time

chants our species.

Dit-dit-dit, dit-dit-dit, dit-dit-dit-dit

cry the birds as they fly away.


Marcia Falk is the author of three books of poems and several translations of biblical and modern poetry. “The Days Between” (Brandeis University Press) is the new sequel to her liturgical work, “The Book of Blessings.” The author lives in Berkeley and will talk about her book at 7 p.m. Aug. 18 at Or Shalom Jewish Community, 625 Brotherhood Way, S.F. Free.


Works may be submitted to fiction editor Ilana DeBare at or poetry editor Joan Gelfand at Fiction excerpts may run up to 2,500 words, but only 800 words will appear in the print edition, with the rest appearing online. All prose and poetry published to date can be viewed at