He stepped into a tall shadow
that howled like a grave before he arrived. 
Getting to know him was taking care of myself. 
I took my time because there was time. 

A pattern took shape, expanded.  His attention
encircled me.  I felt I had a right to his approval
felt fine as muslin that can be pulled
through the eye of a needle.    

I could hear myself looking at him,
trying to find what I'd never seen before.  
I held him long. When he'd had enough
he let go. 

Four white roses in the vase turned brown, that day. 
A full sun, thick with heat, hung above.
The sky looked necessary.
There was no wind. 

Rochelle Mass


She remembers when they found the chair in that special shop in Zichron,
bought the fabric with the roses, had the Russian in Afula renew the stuffing,
when the basket was full of plump figs from the tree in the back. 
The walls were smudged then, crowded with amateur paintings. 
She added more till it was uneven with seashore, flowers
and a startled portrait of someone's mother.  
She touches this plate, that basket, taking one not the other. 
The pile at the door grows. 

She pulls at her shirt, frantic to find things that are truly hers, runs
her hand along the table she had set, served, cleared and wiped
a thousand times for him. 
She squeezes her hands round her crystals, amethysts, slices of quartz.  
I'll leave them for a while, they should stay here, remind him
that I was, that they were mine.

From the shelf, over the stove, she takes a pot, and a square pan
shaped for making dutch pancakes, puts it near the door.  
That stool from India  -   Shula brought it for me -  she slides it
under the chair with the velvet roses. 
The knife I use for mangoes  she opens one drawer after another
till she finds it with the wooden spoons and cake servers. 
You are like your mother  he snarls,
she hisses:   God save us from being like your parents. 

Two rooms wait for her  - white as linen.  Nothing hanging yet
or placed in the corner for her husband to straighten, frown at. 
The neighbor's boy takes the chair and the stool from India
off the truck.  
Dates roll on the open earth, the stench of new rot 
as they reach the steps of her apartment. 

She shakes her head:  I should have gone to China, 
taken the train to Vietnam, stayed over in Australia. 
Gone to the fortune teller in New Delhi. 

Rochelle Mass

ROCHELLE MASS, Canadian born, with her husband and two young daughters,  moved to Israel in l973, lived on a kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley for almost 25 years, and now lives in a settlement crawling up the Gilboa Mountain, overlooking that valley.
She is a translator and editor (Kibbutz Trends, bi-annual of cultural/political issues).
Two poetry collections, Aftertaste, published with Ride the Wind Press, Canada, as well as a smaller chapbook called, "Where's my Home," published by the Premier Poets Series in Rhode Island.  A short story of hers was recently nominated for the 2002 Pushcart Prize by The Paumanok Review, short-listed for a Radio Play by the BBC, and she has had many other prizes and publications.