“At the Top of the World,” shadorma sequence

at the top 
of the world, white clouds 
kiss the sky
winds exhale
the soft breath of the goddess—
Gaia rests

at the top 
of the world, heaven
meets the earth
at center
'tween stars and moon, darkness falls—
Spirit calls

at the top
of the world—rebirth!
Gilgul spins 
in search of 
the highest form of virtue—

© Colleen M. Chesebro

This week for #TankaTuesday we used an image from David at the Skeptic’s Kaddish. Here are my instructions: This is a photo of David’s father. Please be aware that he is no longer with us. David dedicated his blog to his father’s memory. You can read more about his journey HERE. With that being said, take a deep look at this photo. Don’t describe what we all can see. Look into the camera lens… what do YOU see? What is revealed to you? Now, write your syllabic poem.

I apologize for any liberties I took with anyone’s particular religious beliefs. My heart was full of poetic inspiration. I meant no disprespect. As many of you know, my own belief system comprises many theories, and I often mix them all together, as I did in this poem.

According to myjewishlearning.com, “Gilgul is a concept that is described in great detail throughout the Kabbalah. Very much in line with samsara, which is often depicted as a wheel in Buddhist art, the word gilgul comes from the Hebrew root meaning “to spin.” The soul, in the kabbalistic view, spins onward through a great many bodies, striving after a higher form of perfection.”

What do you see beyond the camera lens?


40 thoughts on ““At the Top of the World,” shadorma sequence

  1. I love the information you shared about Gilgul, Colleen. I use a similar concept in my fantasy series. I found your poem to be beautiful. Every stanza made me smile. 🙂


  2. Beautiful, Colleen. This is the first shadorma sequence that I’ve encountered and your verse fit it perfectly. I love the progression of images. All encompasing and life-affirming. 💗


  3. I looked up Gilgul before seeing your interpretation; GILGUL (Heb. גִּלְגּוּל; ” transmigration of souls ,” “reincarnation,” or “metempsychosis”). There is no definite proof of the existence of the doctrine of gilgul in Judaism during the Second Temple period. In the Talmud there is no reference to it (although, by means of allegoric interpretations, later authorities found allusions to and hints of transmigration in the statements of talmudic rabbis).

    I think quite a number of people take what they like best about various faiths and apply it to their liking. And personally the only time that becomes an issue is when one believes ones view is better than or the only way. I enjoyed your verse, especially since it taught me something new. Thank you.


    1. Thanks Jules. I meant no offense with the use of the word. I was looking for an equivalent to “rebirth” and I knew there was something similar in the Kaballah. I approach most things in life from a Buddhist and Pagan perspective, but wanted to add another layer. I’m not a student of Judiasm, so that is why I shared my source for the word Gilgul. I don’t believe any view is better than another, rather, I shared three different perspectives. ❤


  4. A beautiful poem, Colleen. So uplifting and inclusive. Thanks for the explanation too, which added a whole other layer of meaning. The responses have been sublime for this one.


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