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I Fly to Israel for My Mother’s 84th Birthday
Lori Levy


We celebrate in the hills.  My sisters spread blankets
on a grassy slope in the Forest of Angels,
Ya’ar 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 they’ve 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 other’s shoulders, bodies linked,
kick their legs, slide this way and that way,
marking the beat that echoes through the trees—
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 I’m 84,
no walls around me, just a spot with a view,
sun warming my wrinkled cheek
while I gaze with pleasure at the family we’ve 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 mother’s voice,
reminding me once again that it’s important to laugh,
at ourselves, our lives.

From What Do You Mean When You Say Green? And Other Poems of Color (Kelsay Books, 2023).
Used here with permission.


Lori Levy’s poems have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies in the U.S., the U.K., and Israel, and she is the author of a bilingual (English/Hebrew) book of poems, In the Mood for Orange. Her two most recent collections are What Do You Mean When You Say Green?  and Other Poems of Color and Feet in L.A., But My Womb Lives in Jerusalem, My Breath in Vermont. Lori lives in Los Angeles now, but she grew up in Vermont and raised her children partly in Israel. She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family and friends, especially in nature. Lori's five grandchildren keep her entertained, on her toes and, occasionally, inspire poems.



Post New Comment:
Thank you for this wonderful poem.
Posted 05/13/2024 07:33 AM
Angela Hoffman:
Oh, what a perfect celebration of life.
Posted 05/11/2024 08:33 AM
A wonderful celebration of life! Thank you for sharing this moment with us, Lorimay we all have such joys!
Posted 05/11/2024 12:23 AM
Lori Levy:
Thank you all for commenting on my poem!
Posted 05/10/2024 09:42 PM
I love all the beautiful details and especially the feeling of connection to everything and everyone around you.
Posted 05/10/2024 06:03 PM
Arabic music blaring from a radio nearby, where a group of men, hands on each others shoulders, bodies linked, kick their legs, slide this way and that way, marking the beat that echoes through the trees. Ive seen this dance. I want to jump up and dance!! Thanks for sharing your poem of this unique outdoor birthday party.
Posted 05/10/2024 03:36 PM
Thanks Lori.. Your poems always take me with you; What a celebration!
Posted 05/10/2024 02:59 PM
Robert Currie:
Your poem makes me feel as if I am celebrating at this party too.
Posted 05/10/2024 12:24 PM
Larry Schug:
Absolutely beautiful in so many ways. I agree, Lori, that the outdoors is the best place to celebrate. "No walls around me"--yes!
Posted 05/10/2024 11:45 AM
Oh, Lori, I love your poem! I want the same scene for my 84th birthday!
Posted 05/10/2024 11:29 AM

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