Category Archives: poetry

a wedding blessing

by Arlene and Larry Dunn, February 28, 2016

In December of 2004 our niece Jodi and her husband-to-be Gary took a creative approach to the Jewish wedding custom of the seven blessings. They asked us, and six other couples who were important to them, to create and present our own unique blessing on a specific topic. They topic they assigned to us was “patience.”

After mulling over a few approaches, we settled on writing and reciting four haiku. It was a wonderful way for us to invest emotionally in their wedding ceremony and to give them a bit of advice in the form of this blessing. Each of the four haiku are anchored in something elemental to our lives at our beloved former home, Acorn Ridge Gardens in northwest Indiana.

After the wedding, our friend Peg Herbst had the inspired idea to memorialize these haiku in a set of painted ceramic plates. To be fair, she not only inspired the idea, but also designed the illustrative drawings and led the painting project. Here they are are.

Love blooms its brightest / Like agaves prize patience / Of the hummingbirds
Oh how love will thrive / When tended as a garden / Plow sow reap repeat
Dance through the garden / Each to your own heart’s rhythm / Love waits at the well
Lives join together / The wedding plants an oak tree / Love gathers acorns

We gave these plates to Jodi and Gary for their first anniversary. But they were in the process of moving from Chicago to New York at the time, and they asked us to hold onto them for awhile. Since then they have graced our walls, first in our guest cottage at Acorn Ridge, and now at our new home in Oberlin. Gary and Jodi later moved to Jerusalem, and just now, back to the New York area. They will find a place to hang the plates when they settle into a new home, in Montclair, New Jersey. We’ll surely have mixed emotions when we pack them up and send them to their forever home.

blue hill avenue

by Arlene Wilgoren Dunn

The bouquet reaches my nose two stores away.
“One loaf of rye bread, please, sliced.”
She grabs a loaf, drops it in the slicer
Which whirrs through the bread.
She comes around the counter
To hand me the bread
And take my money.
The end piece is mine
On my way home

The smell of pickles at the front door
Makes my mouth water.
A large barrel on each side.
Kosher dills in one,
Crispy fermented sauerkraut in the other.

“Don’t touch the merchandise!” the produce man says.
He flips open a paper bag, puts fruit in it, weighs it and,
Grease pencil at the ready, writes the cost on the bag.
Another man marks a bigger bag with the amounts
And adds the total.
He puts the small bags in the big bag
We pay and off we go.

The butcher’s hands are big and scarred.
He wears a bloodied apron and
Glides along the sawdust covered floor
“Who’s next? C’mon ladies, we don’t have all day!”
Chickens hang on the wall with
Heads and feet and feathers.
We pick two – one for soup, one for roasting.
Then off with their heads and feet
Pinfeathers singed with a torch (pee-yoo).

In the rear of the Prime Market
A man filets fish on a big butcher block
Buckets of guts, bones and skin below.
Skanky . . . but flounder will
Taste good later

Zayde sews custom made suits in his tailor shop
Always hard at work
Marking, pinning, basting, sewing, ironing.
Pins in his mouth, chalk in his hand,
He adjusts the jacket on a man or a mannequin.
I bring him half and half coffee
With double sugar
Sometimes he lets me sip.

May 2019