I Fly to Israel for My Motherís 84th Birthday
by Lori Levy

We celebrate in the hills. My sisters spread blankets
on a grassy slope in the Forest of Angels,
Yaíar Hamalakhim, and there, under pines and oaks—
our parents on beach chairs that seem to float away
in a sea of wildflowers—we feast on the lunch theyíve laid out
on a table in the clearing: lasagna and quiche,
schnitzel, potatoes, salads, fresh peppers.
No balloons at this party, but we have bright red
anemones, clusters of pink columbine, white-pink asphodel,
tangles of mustard weed, yellow and green,
and down below, in the valley, the woolly backs of sheep
that a Bedouin has brought to graze on the tall grass,
their maaing and baaing blending with the Arabic music
blaring from a radio nearby, where a group of men,
hands on each otherís shoulders, bodies linked,
kick their legs, slide this way and that way,
marking the beat that echoes through the treesó
while we chatter and laugh, our parents surrounded
by their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren,
and I think: this is what I want, too,
a birthday party outdoors when Iím 84,
no walls around me, just a spot with a view,
sun warming my wrinkled cheek
while I gaze with pleasure at the family weíve produced,
my husband at my side, details beginning to blur perhaps—
but what will that matter if I can have a moment
of lasagna in the woods, cake and wildflowers and a birthday song
filled with the moaning of sheep and squeals of revelry
and, clear and emphatic and ever-present, my motherís voice,
reminding me once again that itís important to laugh,
at ourselves, our lives.

"I Fly to Israel for My Mother's 84th Birthday" appeared in Angela Poetry Magazine
and won First Place in the Angela Poetry Contest.

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