Bio Note: I am the author of 4 books, the most recent being Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). I have also edited three anthologies, including The Plague Papers, available to read online at http://www.poemeleon.me/peruse-the-mall. My poems and reviews have appeared in many journals, anthologies, and lit-blogs.
Birthday of the World
Jewish New Year opens the door to winter, ruddy-cheeked and beckoning, baskets of apples, jars of honey overflowing, the scent of cinnamon, challah proofing in the oven. These times have seemed a prelude to the end, but it’s the promise of continuing that draws me. The sky’s an angry orange, ancient redwoods hollowed out like reeds, playing a mournful tune. The climate’s come unhinged—record heat followed by winter storms. Fire raises winds and clouds that can be seen from space. Yet for now, life continues, insistent as a root, the New Year crowned with a braided wreath of challah, reminding me that seasons cycle, returning every year. Already, leaves begin to fall, seedpods fatten, the morning’s darker every day. Soon, rains will hammer on the roof, the smell of eucalyptus rising from the earth. A pot of lentil soup will simmer on the stove. Armies of flames will stop advancing across the treeline. Before they start again, we’ll get another chance to sing old songs with new intentions.
For Mickey Loeb In 2014, you were 85; I couldn’t wait much longer to visit your small house in Southern Israel. Yet you persisted, as a stubborn desert shrub might, storing water in its taproot, deep beneath the ground. I spent two weeks watching you take care of everyone, driving neighbors to the doctor, to the store, visiting the sick. In return, they filled your kitchen with their home-cooked meals, called you daily to be sure that you were well. On the last night of my visit. I fixed dinner, enough to feed you for a week. A pot of cherry rice steamed on the burner, and on the soft earth underneath the orange tree, cats from everywhere converged at the screen door. They heard the can opener perform its solo. You called to them by name, dishing out their food, offering a bowl to the shy hedgehog at the far end of the yard. A crescent moon hung overhead like a single sock on the clothesline as the washing machine began its liquid chant and the birds assembled for the evening performance.
©2021 Robbi Nester
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