One morning, I walk out my door
find the air cooler
than it was the day before,
a light, minty leaf dances
toward me, immediately
the promise of pumpkins,
creamy butternut squash and sturdy gourds
line up on the farmer’s table,
ready to be taken home,
hoping to be picked.

There was a time
I would follow this adventure,
but now I pause imperceptibly,
go about my day.
Gather the harvest
bushels of apples
Delicious, Golden, Granny Smith,
sweet, sour, sliced, bitten
check for bugs or worms,
polish to a fine shine,
until we’re tucked in again
for the night
the epic cover
protecting us from a baking sun,
that was once summer.
Soon we will hear
the crunch under our feet
a sky decorated and punctuated
with a lover’s hand
amber, maple-shaped, fiery red,
speckled light brown on pale, faded yellow,
cheerful, everlasting smile,
green becomes sage,
seemingly, suddenly,
bright orange turns to rust.

Get ready to cook,
your grandmother’s recipe,
or one from a book you read long ago,
but no one knows your secret.
It could be coriander seed, or cumin,
or just more thyme, and the realization
that an entrée can be served without stuffing.
Begin again.
It seems, when asked,
why did a woman veer off her path?
(when the whole world knows
we know the directions)
The answer is loneliness.
Now that is the real curse,
is it not?
Busyness can play the charmer,
contentment and even occasional happiness
can snake its way through our lives,
productivity and grocery shopping
can purchase complacency
for a time,
until stock has its turn
at being taken,
rather than stirred briskly.

I am the esrog,
I am the lulav, too.
Complex, complicated and mystical,
shaken and held
for very short bursts.
You bring me forth
maybe give me a kiss,
inhale my deep, provocative,
exotic scent,
caress with your eyes,
select a firm grip,
as if to never let me go,
as if I am so close to your heart
that a whisper is all that is needed
to beckon me nearer,
and I am there, inside you,
your pocket, your velvet-lined box
or did I have that turned around?
For now, seemingly suddenly,
I am being sent
to all ends
of the earth.
In my travels,
I have seen your suffering,
felt your joy,
absorbed your pain,
known your love,
I am sitting in this hut
alone, ’til finally
even the walls
around me are torn down.

I might survive
as a house plant
(for a time)
I might even find myself
pricked with cinnamon sticks
and retrieved from behind
the glass case,
or the drawer where you’ve stored me
to add a certain sweetness
as the candlelight holds back the darkness,
a family embarks on their poignant week.

Where to begin,
as I bring my offering,
I seek to understand
and I experience an existential rejection
with every wrong occurrence,
a broken vase, wasted food,
my child’s tears, missed opportunities
to pray, with domestic chaos
swirling around me,
a storm of anti-Semitism
raging in the streets,
I still see the colors
raining down.

I am lying on a bed
of drying up leaves,
caked somewhat in mud,
You’ve got me right where
You want me
readying myself
to stand up
and get clean.

And as I begin
the washing up
that inevitably follows every
holiday or excursion,
I take soap to dish,
scrub in a circular motion,
rinsing and inspecting,
feeling the calm sense
of satisfaction return
as lemony scents
fill the air above
the kitchen sink,
and while my hands are moving,
moving, ever restless,
my mind soars
with possibilities, decisions, new ideas.