In the late afternoon at the foot of the Green Mountains,
Rachel, in the shade of her porch, picks a handful of beans
the length of her palm — religion of summit and breath,
barbeque and a good dog and beer and acres of thigh-high grass
touched by the first draft of evening. A sunlit breeze lunges
across the hay field. We stand around, breathing.
My mother’s obsessed with this story — a woman
who was beat up in her nursing home by an aide,
frustrated by the shower, several red knots on her forehead.
I picture a nurse sleeping in the room my parents fill with the Times,
her coral uniform behind the door. Rachel comes back and says,
“I grew these beans from seed,” and I picture my dad, my earliest
memory of him in a wheelchair — he knows what it’s like
to have a small woman lift him up by the armpits.
I blurt out that we could say the Shehecheyanu. Why I felt
like praying I don’t know — the warm, soft shine on the field, the big sky,
the wet crunch of the green beans — but that’s something my mom
would insist: “Let’s say the Shehecheyanu.” Her Chabadnik traditions,
her city, her Israel, her kashrut. No, I’m thinking of the last seeds
buried safe inside the Arctic Circle, our flooded future, this heat,
and under my breath, my parents, this sustained note on my tongue —
shehecheyanu v’ke’yi’mah’nu v’hee’gee’ah’nu la’zman ha’zeh
JOSETTE AKRESH-GONZALES is the author of Apocalypse on the Linoleum (forthcoming from Lily Poetry Review Press). Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Southern Review, The Indianapolis Review, Atticus Review, JAMA, The Pinch, The Journal, Breakwater Review, PANK, and many other journals. A recent poem has been included in the anthology Choice Words (Haymarket). She co-founded the journal Clarion and was its editor for two years. Josette lives in the Boston area with her husband and two boys and rides her bike to work at a nonprofit medical publisher. josettepoet.com