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.