The Feast of Booths – a poem by Gershon Ben-Avraham

The Feast of Booths

A willow which has dried up, or most of its leaves have fallen off…is not valid.
	—Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (136.6)

Lost in a worry of wilted willows,
he sat, perched on the edge of a park bench,
leaning forward, hands crossed, lying lightly
upon the curved polished head of his cane.

At Morning Prayer, he'd waved them gently.
Their leaves fell and like little dying fish,
expiring mottled minnows washed ashore, 
lay scattered on the synagogue's floor. 

He turned his closed eyes to the sun. Its light
shone brightly through his drooping, shuttered lids—
two sheets of yellowed maps, with red borders,
and dark blue, silent, slow-moving, rivers.

He saw the pale thin hands of his teacher,
heard the clay-cold lips of the man long dead:
"Do not become like a willow, without 
taste or smell, a willow which has dried up."

The damp autumn wind smelled of coming rain;
the earthy scent of soil enveloped him.
Pushing against his cane he rose. Buried—
lost in a worry of wilted willows.

Gershon Ben-Avraham’s writing has appeared in journals and magazines, including Amethyst Review, Big Muddy, Gravel, Image, Jewish Literary Journal, Poetica, Psaltery & Lyre, Rappahannock Review, and Tipton Poetry Journal. His short story, “Yoineh Bodek,” (Image) earned “Special Mention” in the Pushcart Prize XLlV: Best of the Small Presses 2020 Edition.

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