1. Erev, in its most common usage, erev shabbat, prefix to the Sabbath. Erev, a noun-verb in the tradition of ebb, as in flow, literally, Hebrew for evening. Not evening, though. Evening has a tepid quality, a warmed-over fishstick quality, whereas night is opaque due to density of excitement and day is sprawlingly long and smug about it. Evening is too poetic, too tea-with-supper, too pillar and podium, too plastic bouquet, unlike night's classy black number and day's raw and rugged pair of steeltoes.
But erev. Erev surpasses evening in every sense. Erev is a gasp, the gala apple skin point-of-tooth-contact, pre-bite. It is the toppling wavering of a too-slow bike mount, the anticipatory moment before jumping off. Erev is the pre-, the almost, the nearly, potential energy so volatile it almost glows.
2. Scott, who - most pretentiously, I think - goes by Scott Aaron, complains about my poetic obsessions in our college poetry workshop. He's a self-righteous kid who prints out all his poems on photocopied rubbings of beetles and half-smeared handprints. "Food," he rattles off. "Particularly avocadoes. Also, artichokes, coffee, bread, wine…" And: "Almost. The word almost." He says this flipping through my pages and pages of work in the exasperated manner of a teacher flipping through the late slips of a delinquent student to the chagrin of an unsuspecting parent. "Almost." He shakes his head as if it's an obscenity, and as it is a workshop, I can only duly note it.
3. At the very root of surface tension is the desire to quiver, to linger, to stay unspilled.
4. Because of how observant I grew up and because of how good the mélange of beans in the cholent pot smelled by noon, Friday afternoon never existed for me. Afternoon was eaten by the erev, slurped up like generic beer before first-time sex or orange juice after a fast. Erev is greedy like that, but knows the inherent value of putting of pleasure just long enough to expand it exponentially:
The clink glass-to-glass flirtation around salt shakers and sweaty spinach leaves, nutty rice approaching burnt, grated ginger, the overwhelmingly claustrophobic nature of oven-heat, dishsoap hands and sticky-floor tiptoe, yeast and flour hands, permanent onion hands, nimble hands that knead without forethought. Garlic nubs, okra, honey, pecans, pineapple, kale, salmon, peach, walnuts, tomato paste, kalamatas, chickpeas, cumin, zaatar, sesame oil, unlikelies, uncommons,
I have been making food lists for as long as I can remember. I live in the permanent prefix to a feast, a whet appetite for its own sake.
5. Here is where you come the closest. And closeness does not need to mean hierarchy. Close does not necessitate eventual arrival. Closeness can remain just that: close.
But here is where you come the closest. Your words unwieldy but your physical touch so weightless it's almost inverse, a suction quality. A warning: when almost becomes decisively arrival, beware reversal. When hover turns to touch, beware fingers flying back, then palms, a slight-but-electric arch in the small of the back, a tiny spine-jerk backward, the succumbing kicking of the legs, the eventual re-planting of surrendering feet on firm ground.
"We are Seriously Concerned
About the Fate of
the State of Israel"
An interview with four former Israeli Intelligence Directors
Are the Ten
Carved in Stone?
Run Like the Wind
Dan Friedman &
Josh Goes to Services
Our 400 Back Pages
Zeek in Print
Fall 03 issue now on sale
From previous issues:
Repentance Poem #4