how to braid challah by lhh12385

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     how to braid challah
      claudia reder
     by
     i. Ingredients                   iii. Cutting and Braiding          iv. Optional
     You will be baking               When cutting                       Brush with egg
     with languages.                  the dough                          white twice
     Russian, German,                 into three, four, six              so the loaves glisten —
     and Yiddish                      braids, they may be                once after
     will suffice —                   too long for the                   braiding
     they contain                     counter space.                     and again after baking
     a large amount                   Feel free to use the old-
     of gluten —                      fashioned mahogany                 in honor
                                      dining room table —                of your
     ii. Mixing the Dough             or linoleum —                      Russian
     While you                        whatever you’ve got                grandmother
     knead the concoction,            will do, Stretch                   who threw two
     gathering strength               out the lengthy                    kisses, one
     in your arms                     ropes —                            for each cheek;
     and volume                       take up room —
     in your voice —                  English sentences                  or sprinkle
     such heated                      are famished                       a Yinglish
     discussions                      for intonation,                    of raisins
     until the children               complexity,                        or poppy seeds.
     scream, Stop arguing!            and desire —
     and you retort                                                      v. Serving the Challah
     we are not arguing               Using generous hand                Invite oodles of people.
     we are discussing                motions, braid                     Tear off chunks.
     Aunt Ruthie                      the pogroms.
     and your lost tooth                                                 Dance with your bread.
     and Rachel’s                     Don’t forget to flour
     report card                      the board every so often —         Let the crumbs
     and Zena’s last                  sweeping your hand                 fall on the good table
     doctor’s appointment             across the marble,                 cloth,
     for TMJ                          a clean slate.                           so be it.
     slap slapping it down
     turn turning it over
     in the dough —
     your conversations
     rise, like special yeast —
                                                   Claudia M. Reder is the author of My Father & Miro and Other Poems.
     and because
     your temper                                   about the judge
     has risen                                     Poet Alicia Ostriker was the judge for the 2007 Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize
     just a bit —
                z




                                                   at Lilith. She is the author of 11 books of poetry, her work has been translated into
     you might be in danger
                                                   seven languages, and she has been nominated twice for the National Book Award.
     of braiding
     the challah                                   about the prize
     too tightly —                                 The poetry prize is named for Charlotte Newberger, whose support for Lilith makes
     never mind.                                   possible the publication of new poems in every issue, reviews of books by established
                                                   and emerging poets, and this annual poetry competition. Newberger has had a
                                                   longstanding interest in poetry and the arts, and has served for many years on the
                                                   boards of such institutions as Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater and The Poetry Center,
                                                   as well as serving as president of the Foundation for the Jewish Culture.
                                                   You can read poems selected as runners-up this year at Lilith.org



14        L I L I T H • Summer 2009
                                                                                                               pOETRy
2nd place                                       3rd place

exodus                                          tailor to the king
by ona gritz                                    by emily schneider
A woman has painted her doorpost                Great-great grandfather
with blood so that now, in gray half light,     Was tailor to the King of Sweden
she shakes a small shoulder,                    The king kept his power
pats a curved back, and her children            in seams and pleats and
startle awake, allow themselves                 Empty linings
to be rushed into clothes.                      waiting for his words.
Trusting the hush, they quietly follow          The tailor invented, it seems,
as she walks with their father,                 a phrase with thread,
as they join a river of families                “By the cuffs of their trousers,
coursing from home. They walk and walk,         You will know them.”
a block of bread dough on her back.
She is used to waking early, used to            By the cuffs of their trousers
hefting, carrying, hurrying tasks.              You will know which coins will
Such is the life they steal away from;          touch in the bottoms
and she could almost feel light,                of their pockets,
listening to the sound of her children’s        And which pockets are linen,
feet beside her, breathing the baby’s           Which wool, which silk.
sour milk head resting on her chest.
But she hears the cries of those                By the colors on their lapels,
other mothers, the ones waking now              The signals sent by their buttons,
to the stiff unblinking bodies of their boys.   Which leather, which copper,
Joined by a thousand voices,                    Which ageing gold.
the wail rises, thicker than the dust
they kick up as they walk.                      Grandfather worked in the evening,
Can we let ourselves be loved by such a god?    Then gathered his needles in books
She’d ask this of her husband                   And stacked his earth colored bolts of
but she knows what he would say.                fabrics waiting for a soul to wear them.
Adonai Echad. What choice do we have?
                                                His suits, everyone knew,
                                                Would walk with creases
Ona Gritz is a poet, children’s author,
                                                as even as the equator.
and a columnist for the online journal
                                                As flat and honest
Literary Mama.                                  as his fatherly iron.

                                                When the king wore grandfather’s suits,
                                                Even his majesty’s shoes praised them,
                                                And his felt brimmed hats
                                                Sang down on them with joy.

                                                Emily Schneider is a poet and teacher who
                                                lives on Long Island.




                                                                                            www.Lilith.org • L I L I T H   15

								
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