Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine

We were ovals of a dream, Judean seeds

by Diane Ray

of prophecy, suspended sleeping beauties

of extinct date palm, tamar. Two millennia we ancient

seeds lay secreted while tamar lived in Shabbat psalm:

Righteous ones shall flourish like a tamar. Our parent

trees made honey for our milk-and-honeyed land,

dates of natural caramel, fabled for healing, sustenance,

even love. Fruit, wood, and frond, every tamar inch

prized, along with canopies of shade.

Tamar trees line-danced their elegant arms,

lush in wide forests, down the lanes of Jericho,

as Rome stole Jerusalem and Second Temple fell.

Rome mocked by minting tamar coins: Judea Capta

as weeping woman under tamar. Jews minted secret

tamar coins, left to be found at Masada like a shofar

blasting to the ages the caption’s call:

To Zion’s Redemption!

I, Hannah, plucked seed of tamar, was hidden by believing

hands in a cave-dark jar near Jericho along with brethren

seeds concealed at Masada and Qumran, all of us in swoon

until our pitying angel came: From tamar seed shall tamar

rise! For our epic interlude, she enchanted us with knowing

birds. In bird we heard tunes sweet and sad of our people’s

scroll, buoyed by our crescendo in Ezekiel.

One day dove flew in the news: A Dr. Sarah Sallon, dreamed

our dream of return. Pigeon dropped down to teach the rest:

Into the halls of archaeology strode Sallon: dug up tamar seeds

had lolled in limbo forty years. Investing a year to gingerly

extract, Sallon sent the ancients on to Dr. Elaine Solowey,

botanist who had flocked barren Negev with a wonder

of trees at Arava’s peace oasis where branched people

of Abraham plant an earth-sustaining future.

Eyebrows up, good sport Solowey mothered the seeds

in her baby bottle warmer, nursed with growth enzymes,

blessed and planted on Tu B’Shevat. Soon, a nub of life!

Now the gorgeous tamar hunk, Methuselah-of-Masada,

dioecious, and in need of a bashert. It is I, Hannah, most

zaftig seed from another dig, now grown and wed two-

thousand-year old ima. Mothers of Destiny, so dazzled

tasting my baby dates’ sweet reality! Lark wings in singing:

Tamar is risen in Arava in a time of earth-peril and plague:

Can you hear prophecy in timbrel fronds?

About the author:

Diane Ray is a psychologist, poet, and essayist living in Seattle whose work appears in:  Women's Studies Quarterly, Common Dreams, Voices Israel, The Jewish Literary Journal, Cirque, Canary, Sisyphus, Beyond Nuclear International, and elsewhere. Ray curated two international poetry readings for Voices Israel.