Arts & Culture

Three Poems from The Brakhot Cycle

From The Brakhot Cycle   One whose dead lies before him May be in no position to pray or to converse comfortably or even to make plans for the funeral, reschedule his haircut, inform the book group or the bowling … Read More

By / May 27, 2008

From The Brakhot Cycle

 

One whose dead lies before him

May be in no position to pray or to converse comfortably or even to make plans for the funeral, reschedule his haircut, inform the book group or the bowling league. No matter the circumstance (even if the death was long in coming, if everyone saw that angel peeking through the bedroom keyhole)

it's a slap in the face, a splash of cold water that leaves the mourners gasping. Don't expect the behavior the movies have led you to imagine.

Bring him simple food -lentils and hard-boiled eggs are customary- and let him grieve. If he tries to offer blessing

hush him gently. There's time enough for praise in the infinite stretch of time remaining in the world now lacking one more familiar soul.

*

What blessing does one make over fruit?

 

"Who creates the fruit of the tree," recognizing the wild Kyrgyz ancestry of the Jonagold, the Macintosh, the Empire, how trunks twisted and gnarled bear something wondrous and strange. "Who encases our tough hearts,"

palming a mango, tight skin almost bursting over the flamboyant and succulent flesh and the pit with its sharp edges. "Who ripens holiness in its time," as berries ripen by ones or twos or sevens, each cluster

the lifecycle in microcosm, from pale green to the red of bitten lips, wanton and inviting. Some say, "Who gives us diverse appetites," thinking breadfruit and carambola and durian. Some say "Who helps us remember Eden."

 

*

Three who have eaten

Are obligated to look across the table and see one another as facets of the Holy Blessed One. To offer thanks for companionship. To notice too

the cook, and thank him. If in a restaurant, to greet the waiter and the busboy, even if he has dark skin and speaks no English.

Three who have eaten food grown in the soil, or in coconut shavings or even in air should note the source and be thankful for it. Should

sing the praises of the factory that milled the flour to bake the bread, the truckers who carried lettuce all the way from Argentina.

Some say "May all be fed, may all be nourished." Some say "For this table and all who are seated around it." Some say "Bring us peace, speedily."