Poem | The Season When My Life Turned

By | Jun 21, 2021
Jessica Grenbaum
I have been the first person awake in my house
                                                           every morning of my life
                                    (except decades ago when the babies were babies)
                          and one morning on my way to make coffee
              I felt like a sleeping passenger in a car
making a wide u-turn 
                                    because my life had invisibly changed direction;
                                                       I saw that in my kitchen the only things
                                               that seemed a little alive
                                    and whose manufacture
                    had not injured any living being or the earth
                                                                                 the only ones
                    were the carved wooden spoon one daughter made in camp
dimpled just as we are
                    the squat clay pitcher made by the other
                                   complete with looped handle and wide enough
       to pinch the sea salt from it
                                                           and the sugar bowl remaining
                                         from my great-grandparents’ farm in the Catskills
cream-colored circled with a broad green stripe
                                  its metal cover hinged in the middle to be folded back
                        as was the fashion in the mountains. 
And after the turn
                                                 I stopped needing
             the kitchen to greet me in the morning as a clean slate
with everything from dinner washed and put away;
                                                          when I pass the table to make coffee—
                                             the morning still dark through the windows
                        the Shabbat glasses with red shadows at each well’s bottom
the silverware at angles alongside the salt pitcher
                        the empty can of seltzer on its side
              and the sugar bowl
open with a few spilled grains next to the box of teas—
                                                            I’m gladdened by this pentimento
                                     of who spoke or laughed or drank
                       who told the next story
                                                  or asked the question which then unspooled
                                  our thoughts from their cupboards
                       within cupboards
                                  who allowed for silence—
                                                                             because arriving at the day
                                               from this direction—
                        all the sweet and salt life stirred in us—
I see it will be cleared away soon enough

Jessica Greenbaum’s most recent book of poems is Spilled and Gone. She is the coeditor of the first poetry Haggadah, the Mishkan HaSeder.

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