Blue sky, white clouds, yellow sun,
green flowers, orange flames, red balloons –
my Rubik’s Cube sat unsolved for forty years
until my grandson, whose name means heart,
held it in his hands on Thanksgiving day,
while I was in the kitchen cooking turkey
and scrolling silently for news of faraway hostages
whose release was delayed another day.
Scrolling silently, as if my grandson,
whose name means lion, was unaware,
his ears too young to hear, his heart
to tender to bear, even though I know
he knows the news that’s suffused the air,
sucked our breath, for fifty days.
Last month I planned the pies
and pomegranates and potatoes and
wrote a poem about red balloons for
a boy who turned nine in some mid-east tunnel
(we prayed turned nine,
perhaps allowed to see blue sky,
white clouds, yellow sun, red balloons
set aloft from his homeland
to mark his birthday).
My Lion-Heart is only eleven –
dare we pray for hostages in front of him
at our Thanksgiving table, before we eat our fill?
He ought to be too young to know such evil,
yet I know he’s not, every year learning
to hide under his desk or in the classroom closet.
On Friday, I empty the dishwasher,
stack the plates, sort the silver,
tiny kitchen TV on whisper–watching, waiting,
until at last the Red Cross vans
bring the first group out, and there he is,
the boy who’s nine.
Then he’s on the helicopter heading home,
if the home still stands, and someone hands him
a Rubik’s cube, and someone captures the photo –
the boy-turned-nine, whose name means cherished,
wears glasses, as does mine. His slender fingers,
so familiar, work the puzzle, his tender ears
cradled in swollen muffs that promise to protect
against the engine’s mighty roar.
About the Poem
On November 5, you published my poem “Balloons for Ohad” about Israelis releasing balloons into the sky on October 23, in hopes that a boy named Ohad, turning 9 that day, might see them from wherever he was being held hostage in Gaza. On November 24, the day after American Thanksgiving, Ohad was in the first group of hostages to be released. I had to write another poem.
About the Author
Elizabeth Edelglass is a fiction writer and book reviewer who finds herself writing poetry in response to today’s world—personal, national, and global. Her fiction has won the Reynolds Price Fiction Prize, the William Saroyan Centennial Prize, the Lilith Short Story Contest, and the Lawrence Foundation Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Fish Prize and won third prize in the Voices of Israel Reuben Rose Competition.