Pass old cornstalks, the sukkah's sad debris.
The wetland's dull, dead stalks washed out by snow
but some stems gleam with red. What vibrancy,
the gold-as-tinsel fronds of the willow.
Grey pussywillows' pearls, woodsy jewelry
against this backdrop where no leaves yet grow.
Happy are we who make Your house our home!
Birdsong fills this robin's-egg-blue dome.
Monday's prompt at NaPoWriMo invited us to experiment with ottava rima, an Italian verse form which usually appears, in English, as eight-line stanzas in iambic pentameter with an a/b/a/b/a/b/c/c rhyme scheme. I wrote mine on a short afternoon break from work before Hebrew school on Monday. I stepped outside the synagogue and sat with my laptop in the small gazebo, and the poem arose out of what I observed in the small wetland behind the shul.
The penultimate line is a reference to the ashrei prayer, which begins "Happy are they who dwell in Your house." (I first blogged about that prayer here in 2004, and did so again in 2007.) Traditionally Jews daven the ashrei three times a day, one of those times being mincha, the short afternoon prayer service. (Writing this poem became my mincha for Monday.)