My house smells like challah.
Three weeks ago I went through
these same motions in your kitchen.
You gave me the best gift:
you came down in the wheelchair
you hated to use, tethered
to the oxygen tank, and heard
my son sing kiddush one last time.
When we whisked the napkin
off the spiraling challah loaves
tiny sugar ants were exploring
their swirls and curves. I almost
cried, but we brushed them off
and declared the bread intact
so three generations could bless.
That night, back in bed, you said
"it's been too short, but
it's been sweet." Did you mean
our visit, or your eighty-two years?
We flew home the next morning
not knowing we would return
within a week. For days I kept
marveling, "she ate steak
at Shabbat dinner," as though
that mattered. What I meant was
you were so alive. Shabbes is coming
and I can't FaceTime with you
from the place where you are now.
You'd say "don't be maudlin."
I'm trying, but every minute
takes me farther from the one time
I baked challah for you, deeper
into this world where you are gone.