Tree of Life, Lunar Calendar Day

by Janet Bowdan

As my granddad would say before meals,
let battle commence. The poem starts
with a blessing over the children,
with a cheer for tonight’s challah baked
by the kindergarten, sweet and fresh, it starts
with the collision of schedules,
each day the eddy of everybody’s needs swirls faster,
a boat could be carried straight through, a boat
could launch itself right over the edge
of Shabbat into the next day. That morning started,
it was a hard start, it was the radio
explaining that “Shabbat” is the Jewish word
for “Sabbath”—you know it’s bad when
we’re on the news and they’re educating
listeners on the common origin of our religion—
The grandparents, the doctors, the greeters
at the synagogue, always first
to welcome the stranger, welcome the shooter
who comes early, who shoots.
Reader, are you my child, is it my job
to make you think everything’s
going to be okay so that you will step out
well provisioned into the cold day, the car
warming up just for you?


Janet Bowdan’s poems have appeared in APRBest American Poetry, A Poet’s Siddur, Nixes Mate Review and elsewhere. She teaches at Western New England University where she is the editor of Common Ground Review. She lives in Northampton with her husband and son, and with occasional visits to or from two lovely stepdaughters.