Thursday, 17 September 2020

Matt Forrest Esenwine is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday round up. Stop by Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme for links to poetry posts from around the kidlitosphere.

Happy Poetry Friday and Shana Tovah! This evening marks the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

The greeting “Shana Tovah” means “good year.” If you’re curious, you can read more about this phrase and the significance of Rosh Hashanah in Jewish culture in this article.

It wouldn’t be a festival without special foods. Apples and honey (and apples dipped in honey, my favorite) are traditional, because they set our intention for a sweet year ahead.

Last week, I baked and froze a round challah for tonight’s Shabbat dinner. This is a special shape for the Rosh Hashanah holiday, symbolizing goodness without end. It was my first time braiding a round loaf!

This week, I took a webinar and learned how to make a lemony honey cake. I hope there’s some left for dessert tonight. If not, I won’t complain about having apple slices and honey.

With so much unknown about the year ahead during the pandemic, Marge Piercy’s Rosh Hashanah poem struck a chord for me. I love the reminder “putting by of what will sustain them” — which might be vegetables brought in from the garden, then canned or frozen. But it might also mean making time to bake, read, do yoga, knit — things that sustain our hearts.

Whether or not you are celebrating the New Year today, I hope you enjoy the poem.

The late year

I like Rosh Hashonah late,
when the leaves are half burnt
umber and scarlet, when sunset
marks the horizon with slow fire
and the black silhouettes
of migrating birds perch
on the wires davening.

I like Rosh Hashonah late
when all living are counting
their days toward death
or sleep or the putting by
of what will sustain them—
when the cold whose tendrils
translucent as a jellyfish

and with a hidden sting
just brush our faces
at twilight. The threat
of frost, a premonition
a warning, a whisper
whose words we cannot
yet decipher but will.

18 responses to “Poetry Friday: Apples and Honey”

  1. Thank you. I sent the link to the poem to my niece for Rosh Hashanah. The breads look divine.

  2. […] marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Laura Shovan is celebrating with challah, apples, honey – and […]

  3. Love the tactile imagery of half burnt leaves and “hidden sting”…a beautiful poem.

  4. Thank you for this! Your bread, your cake, and this gorgeous poem. Oh the jellyfish!

  5. jama says:

    Sweet New Year to you!! Wonderful poem with beautiful imagery and sensory details. Drooling over your bread and cake.

  6. Linda Baie says:

    Happy New Year to you, Laura, & thank you for all the sweetness of your post today. You are the baker extraordinaire! Enjoy your evening celebrations. I love the poem, the parts she includes of our lives, especially “when the cold whose tendrils
    translucent as a jellyfish

    and with a hidden sting
    just brush our faces
    at twilight.” Beautiful!

  7. Linda Mitchell says:

    Shana Tova, Laura! What a year…let’s hope next year truly brings us the sweetness we desire. Your round challah loaf is gorgeous. And, so is the poem you shared. I love the idea of burnt leaves, and sillouettes and lateness. There’s a loss there and I really love writing about the layers of loss…despite being a fairly happy, positive person. Enjoy your family and the food!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks, Linda! “The layers of loss” is one way to look at this year. But maybe it’s more of a braid with the positive, unexpected things that came to us — for me, having both of my grown children home.

  8. Rose Cappelli says:

    Love the beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing it, Laura. I, too, like the late fall “when the leaves are half burnt.” Your bread and cake look delicious. Shana Tovah!

  9. Shanah Tovah Laura, to you and your family! Enjoy your scrumptious challah and honey cake, I’m enjoying taking them in remotely. Thanks for sharing Marge Piercy’s strong poem, a call for us to all wake up and take notice.

  10. Marge Piercy’s poetry is genius. Thank you, Laura. Every time I come across her, I say I must find more. Shanah Tovah to you and yours, Laura!

  11. Michele Krueger says:

    Shana Tova Laura! I loved the poem and put by tons of peaches this weekend! Your challah is a work of art!

  12. “Shana Tovah” back to you. I am glad that Michele Kogan shared that thought and you reiterated it because the meaning is exactly what everyone needs, Laura. Your cake looks yummy so I am in the baking mood. Apples and honey sound like a good treat. I am thinking of my dear Jewish friends on Long Island and will out happy greetings and the poem too.

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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