Bobbing for Apples in Hard Times

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           by Dana Janine Diamond

I’ve had a craving

all day

for a cup of red lentil Minestrone

at the Eden Cafe

I’m immersed in Hass’s

The Apple Trees at Olema

chosen because it’s

Rosh Hashana, the new year.

My head is leaning in

taking poetry by the teeth

spooning on honey

from the sorrel tree,

to infuse, offer

succor from its redolence,

traveling through the spicy sagebrush

as I savor silky leeks, savory tomatoes, and soft sweet potatoes.

We tatterdemalion, pretty poets,

who wouldn’t want to be,

ahem…read a Poet Laureate?

I have to write

while I still have time

it’s the night

before Yom Kippur

have I awakened from our dream?

A blond-headed girl suddenly

lets out a loud, piercing sound

a unison call of the whooping crane,

startling me from my reverie,

her father glances at her,

“I’ll behave, Daddy,” she says.

I smile in complicity,

wishing to emit

letters from the arc of the ellipse

to sing us from slumber,

a parade of others

with downs syndrome, autism, special needs,

whatever we call different these days,

stream by accompanied

by guffaws, utterances, greetings

the girl and I wave,

Rebecca, I discover,

she boldly walks over, shakes

my hand and introduces herself.

“Now you know me?”

“Now you know me.”

“Now you know me!”

She exclaims with her hand on her heart.

Hope has arisen in mine,

a blessing from her pristine, holy soul.

I feel purified,

my metaphorical crumbs

swirling in the creek

for symbolic birds and swift fish to feed,

the hush of moving water

slips in between

peaceful pebbles,

tangled branches of leaves still green

hovering, these souls

marching before me

are my mikveh,

a second time in, and

tashlich revisited, revolving…

spinning sins into kindness,

these angels limping, helped along

by watchful parents, unsure aids, silver walkers,

their lopsided smiles

only only only

because the world is turned

upside down,

a dream within a dream.

An old man, stooped over,

his back curved into a hump,

is carefully washing a container

in the sink at the condiment station,

not shy, a large lime green kippa

clipped merrily atop his head,

above a twinkle in his eye,

a wild printed shirt and wide plaid pants,

cinched in with care

in contrast to his frail body,

something in his air

evokes Elijah, hints

at a hidden tzaddik;

despite his garish ensemble,

he manages to retain his dignity

as he shuffles lightly to his table,

in a honeycombed rhythm,

a kind of remembered grace

enhancing his step,

I close my book,

ready myself to leave,

resolve not to miss

my chance

in the Book of Life,

I wish him a Sweet New Year,

pause as he looks up,

no Tamerlane moment here,

he reveals his toothless grin,

responds, “You sure look beautiful tonight.”

“Why, thank you, um…what’s your name?”

“It’s Bob.”

“You’re real sexy,” he continues,

“Can we have dinner sometime?”

Shaking my head, I turn to go,

(I, who am covered head to toe)

turn again, “how old are you,

if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Old enough to know better

and young enough

not to give a damn!”

He interrupts his chortling

to add, “85!”

Ah, I see where I’m headed, Bob,

but I’m not there yet.

He reminds me a little

of my father, of blessed memory,

who would have turned ninety-three

this Yom Kippur,

what was that like for his mother, I wonder,

to be in labor, give birth, on the holiest of days…

he came to me once in a dream

he was floating in a canoe

on the stillness of the lake

tendering words of fatherly love,

in life, he talked of the future,

in death, he spoke only of the present.

And birth and death and the small

i in between,

begs the question,

are we as we seem?

I’m in love with truth,

if you can’t speak it, be it,

don’t waste my time, know

I will not forsake my birthright,

mine is a poet’s birthday, a poet’s namesake,

and tonight, the apples, an auspicious beginning.

*Written Eruv Yom Kippur 5772, October 7-8, 2011 (the week of Steve Job’s passing.)

COPYRIGHT 2011 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

 

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