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I Fly to Israel for My Mother's 84th Birthday

by 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.

Lori Levy: My poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Poetry East, RATTLE,
, and numerous other literary journals in the U.S., England, and
Israel.  My work has also been published in medical humanities journals,
and one of my poems was included in a program on BBC Radio 4.
Though I live in Los Angeles, "home" has also been Vermont and Israel.
My three little grandchildren keep me entertained and on my toes.
World's Best Poems, p. 10

I Fly to Israel for My Mother's 84th Birthday

by Lori Levy
(Sherman Oaks, California, USA)

First Place: Angela Poetry Contest #1
Originally Published in
Angela Poetry Magazine on April 22, 2018
"I Fly to Israel for My Mother's 84th Birthday" by Lori Levy
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