Nine Ways of Looking at a Pomegranate††††††††††††††††††††
This morning in Jerusalem
Close to where it grew,†
I am holding† a ripe pomegranate
Heavy with juice
In the cup of my palm,†
a great gift that deserves
careful observation, one
of the seven species
the land offers up to us
and therefore most blessed.
Within the thick leathery
crimson skin, each ruby red
seed is snug† in its own white pocket
cushioned like a jewel,
sacred and inviolate.
This morning in Jerusalem
in my sun-lit space, I glimpsed
primordial† light in each seed
reminding me that every soul
is guarded like the pupil of an eye
and though I appear adrift
I, too, am precious,
protected and safe.
Some say it was not an apple
Eve ate but a pomegranate;
I think not;
by the time† she chewed through
the coarse rind to the† juicy, fruit,
she would certainly have had
second thoughts and changed her mind,
and even now we would all of us
be dwelling in Paradise,
with a forever fertile earth
and gentle snakes.
By a twist of fate,
I have been
on a desert island.
once again† ship-wrecked self,
the result of yet another ill-advised mistake,
when a bottle rolls out of the surf and I stare
in disbelief as a genie emerges with a bowl
of sparkling red gems in one hand
and† a burlap sack of pomegranates in the other.
I canít have both and must choose.
In my dream, I have redeemed myself
for all the bad choices in my life
I awake so† pleased with myself
craving the† lusciously heavy
pomegranate,† on my kitchen shelf.
Solomon, renowned for his eye for beauty
and design, chose the calyx of the pomegranate
for his crown.† Surely it will be found together
With the treasures of the mishkon,†
Waiting to be revealed in the caves beneath
the ancient city walls
to adorn the Mashiach when he reigns
from his throne in Jerusalem.††
The sages have decreed
that each pomegranate contains
613 seeds, the exact number of positive
and negative commandments,
a matter of dispute because
each pomegranate numbers more or less
than these, a conclusion.
that begs the question
Who and how many counted?
And determined statistically between
400 and 1400 how many would have exactly
and can we be sure none were eaten
or that a blackbird (one of the thirteen)
didnít fly in and nibble?
Now to settle the dispute
Three men in lab coats, surgical gloves,
And masks have received a grant
And been tasked to count† the seeds
In pomegranates. one by one. From deep within
The bowels of MIT they are working
Feverishly to refute the claim of ancient
Sages and thus maintain that statistically
Only one pomegranate in 216† could have 613
And from there the argument could proceed
In favor of an arbitrary and random universe
And against the existence of a Creator.††
Meanwhile in another realm,
whole constellations whose celestial bodies
mimic each new pomegranate becoming ripe
are forming in space, expanding the universe
with more and more luminous seeds in the sky,
proliferating in the† space† beyond what appears
to the naked eye and to our most advanced telescope.
If we delight in surprise and having fun
Created in His image, it could not be otherwise.
In a corner of the shuk, the man
behind a pyramid of pomegranates,
knows I am hoping the one
he selects for me is good.,
as I watch him carelessly choose.
It is a question of faith, for
a pomegranates offers no clue,
no sweet scent much as I try,
to determine whether it is deliciously ripe
or it has hopelessly gone by,
unlike a pineapple that yields
a stalk or a watermelon that offers
a hollow sounds or an avocado
whose leathery skin yields to the touch.
The pomegranate is a mystery
until the first slice, and such a relief
when inside nothing is soggy
and the color is just right.
This morning my fingers are red
and sweetly stained
and I am pleased and amused.
My pomegranate has vanished
without† a trace except for
a trickle of red juice on my face.
A blackbird outside my window
(not one of the four and twenty
baked in a pie)
is perched on my sill, reminding me
I might, if I were not so full and sleepy
dream up at least another verse.
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