• Jane Liddell-King

Changing the order


This year you put an orange on the Seder plate

and when Daniel asked

so why is our plate different from all others

you answered

the orange is for those kept out of mind

supposed to know their place

but crossing a sea of Reeds

and you made all the difference


we spoke of wandering oranges


Ari said

back in the 1890s

it was an Arab crop

and thousands of years before

birds rivers people brought the pips from China

sweetening as they went

a galut of such fruit 


80 now your mother remembered having picked a crop all night

on a kibbutz in the Galiliee

her lips and tongue and fingertips yellow and sticky with juice

the ground glowing with it


for years when he came back from Haifa

my father scanned catalogues and stores for a juicer

so the taste would take him back

to a thin dark girl whose language he’d put his tongue to

talking late of an Israeli state

her promised land


he taught me this way of peeling an orange

of slipping it gently out of its skin to leave one long unbroken curve

he had such patience with each fruit


this year he would have watched you fill the final cup

and open the door for Miriam

who put a desert of regret behind her


this year he would have said                                                                                                                                                                                                                    a bracha for the orange




Seven Brachot for Chava


(for Diana Lipton)


Brucha At Chava

Bless you Eve for keeping the snake talking

and finding he had a sympathetic ear somewhere under his smart green skin


Bless you for not saying

this is paradise

this is absolute heaven

meaning no more than the company of a man who opened his ear to a secret inner voice

or spent G-d knows how many hours talking to himself

before looking sheepish

eating his words

and kissing the earth that made even his feet blush


Bless you for knowing that the fruits of the earth in however many divine tones and semitones

sumptuous berries

polished aubergines and sweet cucumbers

that thrilled your taste buds

would leave you leafing your mind for names to make them last


Bless you for refusing to discuss horticulture or herbs or food

raw or cooked

for saying

Listen Adam a kitchen is a place of endless recycling

and I have no such vacant space inside my head


Bless you for giving rise to a thousand bodies of knowledge


for dreaming a city


for getting your hands on this world