essays by shé

Essay #35: bat qol

“If it bothered Avery, it can’t continue.” –letter from a mother to Dear Abby about her daughter and possible sexual abuse, published 10/21/2011

Another mask smashed to the ground yesterday, taking a bottle of holy water with it.

I made it a few years ago, after Emmett died – a white wolf-dog face with an iridescent heart on the forehead. The damage? One ear sheared off, the better to hear you with, my dear.

Last week I told a so-called friend that I was uncomfortable with her too-intimate hugs. Distressed for months, I kept rationalizing: perhaps it was cultural differences, or an occupational hazard – we’re both dancers. But no other friend slides her hands down my sides as a way of saying hello.

“I think you should trust your intuition,” said a neighbor. “Do you feel like this with everyone who hugs you?”

“No,” I said.

“Well then,” she said.


I tend to doubt myself, to see other perspectives instead of my own. To see the ‘good’.

“Focus on the positive!” said another so-called friend, during a troubled relationship a decade ago.

“That’s why I’ve stayed so long!” I replied. Stayed and ignored the ‘negative’, ignored my intuition, ignored the small voice inside, the bat qol.

Hebrew for daughter of a voice or daughter of the voice of god, bat qol is “she who speaks in whispers and half-seen images.” (Laurie R. King, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice;

Thanks to the broken mask, I now have another ear to hear with. And this one I can stick in my pocket for emergency listening.

My father called to see how I was holding up. “You should be proud of yourself,” he said. “I know how difficult that was for you.”

“I should’ve done it earlier,” I said, “though I guess it’s an improvement over the past.”

“I don’t think you should do that,” he said. “I don’t think you should go there. This was a very big deal.”

He’s right.

I am no longer pretending nothing’s wrong. A lie of omission is still a lie, especially if I omit myself.

With these three ears, I am listening to love, trying to hear the truth.




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