Free Verse

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bodegeschmack - the taste of the land

for Maxine Kumin, my favorite poet

After sixty years in Israel,

this year your parents' Rosh Hashanah was sweetened

by apples dipped in clover honey.

Your mother's Kosher cookbooks said

"Let my people eat"

streusel-topped sponge cakes,

celery root and barley soup,

stuffed cabbage and lambs lettuce salad.

Every syllable tasted good

between their tongue and teeth

as their tastebuds waited

for a mitzvah across the Atlantic.

Your mother folded the sweet and tart stories

into the Hamantash, trying

to teach the taste of Purim to American children.

Chewing sourwood twigs quenched

their taste for olives planted by Isaac.

They worry you've sold your birthright

to stand among the myrtle trees.

Your father warns, "Fruit will grow smaller and poorer

than the tree from which the seed was taken,

unless it is grafted from the bud."

Rather than be grafted

you followed a winged seed.

Now it is growing in soil rich enough

to grow plum thickets

and living fences of Osage orange.

More songbirds are sheltered in your apple trees

than harps in the willows

by the waters of Babylon.

You will grow as many wild mushrooms,

bloodroot, and trillium

as there are bitter herbs in Jerusalem.

* * *

Deborah Quigley Smith has published poems in Melic Review, Long Pond Review, Sequoya Review, and Poetry Miscellany, as well as other print and online journals. She has an English degree from Harding University and currently lives with her husband in Quigley's Castle, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In addition to poetry, Debbie writes international thrillers, one of which was recently selected as a semi-finalist for a national prize. She volunteers in the Community Writing Program, mentoring students on plot and character.

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