123 days

There are 123 days left until 40.

1 – 2 – 3

and like that I will be

Over the Hill.

Which hill?

The hill there

footsteps away?

The Tel?

Tell me.

Tel Hannaton through fence, by Jen Maidenberg

Tel Hannaton through fence, by Jen Maidenberg

It’s a curious time.

This tick tocking of clock

measured quietly

uncertain

alone

without labels I’ve grown accustomed to

a “Jean Val Jean” moment in time, says my husband.

“Who am I?”

1-2-3 and I will be 40.

Over the Hill.

Not Under it.

A blessing

Not dead becomes a blessing when

1-2-3

one is 40.

Remember when dead was unimaginable, unthinkable?

When youth was a fortress of solitude with its fangs sunk into the taut skin of our necks?

Sure, there was always AIDS hanging over our upper middle class halos.

And a little bit of cancer.

But now there is cancer

of everything.

It ate away at the fangs of youth — replaced them

Sunk into Breast. Stomach. Skin.

Now, there is the echo of anomaly

Brain. Lung. Ovary.

“What’s that?”

A tag. A growth. A lump.

1-2-3 and you become

Much too aware.

Too much care taken in the shower

soaping up lathering up the sides of once-breasts

Too much care taken in the reflection

smoothing sprouting silver down

Too much care taken in front of a lens

facing right, facing left, facing the side with less shadows.

Filter me.

1 – 2 -3 until 40.

Over Under but what about

On the Other Side

Kibbutz House by Jen Maidenberg

Kibbutz House by Jen Maidenberg

I hold out hope

that walking through the door of 40

is like opening the front door of the Gale farm

after a wicked storm.

1-2-3

technicolor works its magic

and life becomes more richly lived

in never before seen hues of

yellow green and blue.

* * *

 

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I see beauty

When I first moved to Israel, as when I first fell in love with my husband, everything was beautiful:

The early morning mountains which framed a glorious sky peppered with misshapen clouds.

The herds of cows that grazed by the side of the road in fields glistening with morning dew.

The herb garden I grew from seedlings and the lemon tree i tended in my front yard.

All instilled me daily with wonder.

But as with any new love, the extraordinary faded into the ordinary, and over the past two and a half years, I have slowly become a woman who no longer feels compelled to sigh as I drive on the beach road from the lower galilee where I live south to Tel Aviv.

I no longer breathe in deep and breathe out the question:

I live here?

I am able to see the waves crash on the shores of the Mediterranean without being overwhelmed with delight.

I am able to see a lone camel walking along the busy express highway without grinning.

Yes, i live here.

And with my acknowledgment comes a price. My vision shifts slightly.

But even in my nonchalance,

Even in my hurry to get home to my kids
To make dinner
To clean the dishes

i still stop for the cotton fields.

There’s something magical about blooming cotton.

I can’t explain it.

Is it the absurdity of seeing — there sprouting from a plant — a material I know only as a sensation against my skin?

Is it the contrast of the billowy white puffs against the dried out greenish gray stalks emerging from the ground?

I don’t know.

But I am always caught surprised by the cotton fields.

As if someone has transported me back

Somewhere else but now.

cotton