TO A WILD IRIS
(For Rabbi David Ingber)

Among the flora on Riverside Drive,
there lives a wild iris
dressed in sword-shaped leaves
and propitious buds

This genus was named after the goddess
of the rainbow, messenger to the Olympian gods
To the Greeks, the rainbow was often seen
spanning the distance between cloud and sea

In the span of a short time, it was replanted four times:
in the fields of Makor, in the fields of Broadway,
in the fields of Grosvenor,
and in the fields of West End.

With whatever soil it had,
it made cups from the earth
for its brothers and sisters
to drink from

Each time, light would hover over it.

I now bless you tenacious one:
may your view be filled with eager hearts,
each one brimming with affirmations of Shalom,
Ashrey, Amen, and Aleynu.

May you get dizzy counting petals
as you ask who came
to your field for the first time,
And when clouds thicken above

may you find light in the eyes
of those you so patiently nourished
May the full moon you are wedded to, cast
gold on your days and silver on your nights

May each blessing uttered by those present
along with every unuttered silent one,
transform into ladders on dark nights
And when you’re old,

may you remember this moment
with its wide and gentle wings

The work of burial is never done,
the work of planting is never done—
for you are called to do both

A nameless hunger prompts you
to hold one task in each hand,
and when your time is done,
you will be granted one last act:

to do what you’ve always done—
light one more candle,
this one to hold against your bones,
so they also can turn into light.

May this light nourish
a field of wild irises—
each a bud open to the sky,
honoring your rainbow of colors

In my trembling
hands, your seeds
glitter like fire

— Abraham Menashe
© 2017