March 30, 2020

Poem: In Praise of Shabbat Nachos

Not naches, Yiddish for the pride you have
when your kid ties his shoes for the first time
or stays sober for a year — but nachos,
gloriously unhealthy party on a plate, sweetness
of corn, yellow lake of cheddar, studded with
a thousand black beans giving their lives so that
we might live — and because it is Shabbat,
holiest day of the week, when God rested
after creating the world so we rest after
trying not to check social media more than
one hour a day and maybe also getting some
work done between status updates —
because it is Shabbat, we add kale sauteed
with garlic, buried like vitamin treasure
among the crunchy-soft sheath, the layers
of comfort, over which we dab plain
whole milk yogurt, a gesture towards
the fatty tang of virtue. The challah looks
nervous today, as if, facing this bejeweled
newcomer, we might forget the grand dame
with her braided tresses, her restrained
sesame seeds. The red wine wishes
it could be a Corona with lime. And you,
my love, across the table, your fingers
glistening with oil — did I mention it is
Valentine’s Day so this is not just a
Shabbat poem but a love poem — on
this day named for a saint of a religion
not ours, thirteen years after we met,
I see how the cycles are beginning to add up,
we’ve spent more weeks loving each other
than I can count, the Shabbat candles flickering in each others’ eyes, then in
the eyes of first one baby, then two, and now
they’re old enough to say “We don’t want
chicken for Shabbat, we want nachos” and why
not, why not eat what we love while we’re
here, why not celebrate all the holy days
we can, ours and everyone else’s, all
at once, because there’s no way our time
here on earth together can possibly
be enough to hold all this love.

Alicia Jo Rabins is a writer, musician and Torah teacher who lives in Portland, Ore.