To return to The Deronda Review homepage, click here.

                                        

Roberta Chester

 

Nine Ways of Looking at a Pomegranate††††††††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††† 1

This morning in Jerusalem

Close to where it grew,

I am holdinga 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.

††††††††††††

†††††††††††††† 11

Within the thick leathery

crimson skin, each ruby red

seed is snugin its own white pocket

cushioned like a jewel,

sacred and inviolate.

This morning in Jerusalem

in my sun-lit space, I glimpsed

primordiallight 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.

††††††††††††††††† III

Some say it was not an apple

Eve ate but a pomegranate;

I think not;

by the timeshe chewed through

the coarse rind to thejuicy, 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

easy childbirth

and gentle snakes.

†††††††††††††††† lV

By a twist of fate,

I have been

marooned

on a desert island.

Bemoaning my

once againship-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

anda 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 sopleased with myself

craving thelusciously heavy

pomegranate,on my kitchen shelf.

††††††††††††††††† V

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.††

†††††††††††††††††††† VI

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

613,

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 countthe 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 216could have 613

And from there the argument could proceed

In favor of an arbitrary and random universe

And against the existence of a Creator.††

†††††††††††††††††††† VII

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 thespacebeyond 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.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††† VIII

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.

†††††††††††††††† IX

This morning my fingers are red

and sweetly stained

and I am pleased and amused.

My pomegranate has vanished

withouta 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.

 

 

 

 


 To return to The Deronda Review homepage, click here.