White butterflies, with single
black fingerpaint eyes on their wings,
dart and settle, eddy and mate
over the green tangle of vines
in Labor Day morning stream.
The year grinds into ripeness
and rot, grapes darkening,
pears yellowing, the first
Virginia creeper twining crimson,
the grasses, dry straw to burn.
The New Year rises, beckoning
across the umbrellas on the sand.
I begin to reconsider my life.
What is the yield of my impatience?
What is the fruit of my resolve?
I turn from my frantic white dance
over the jungle of productivity
and slowly niggun slides,
cold water down my throat.
I rest on a leaf spotted red.
Now is the time to let the mind
search backwards like the raven loosed
to see what can feed us. Now,
the time to cast the mind forward
to chart an aerial map of the months.
The New Year is a great door
that stands across the evening and Yom
Kippur is the second door. Between them
are song and silence, stone and clay pot
to be filled from within myself.
I will find there both ripeness and rot,
what I have done and undone,
what I must let go with the waning days
and what I must take in. With the last
tomatoes, we harvest the fruit of our lives.
—Marge Piercy, feminist poet and author, from The Art of Blessing the Day
“God does not predetermine whether a person shall be righteous or wicked that God leaves to us.”
—Midrash Tanchuma, Pekdei 3