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The plastic bag promises “12 Grain Bread,”
and I laugh. If one grain is good, should twelve
be better? Are there twelve good grains?
And I remember, it’s Shavuot,
the Feast of Weeks, a festival
I don’t completely understand, the end
of the seven times seven days’ count of the omer—
something to do with grain. Wheat, I assume,
the staff of life. I’m shopping for my son’s little family,
whole grain for my grandson.
I look at the label to count the grains:
Whole wheat flour (one), malted barley flour (two),
rye, oats, (four), corn grits, sunflower seeds
(not a grain, say six, provisionally),
brown rice (seven), triticale (eight),
barley, buckwheat (a grass, but let it pass—
ten), flaxseed (don’t know), millet (twelve), soy grits.
A baker’s dozen? Most of them listed
Before he could speak my grandson learned
two signs, Finished, More,
like the first wordless words
at the breast, turning the head
or latching on.
More grains, more good,
more goods, the large life.
The festival of Shavouth celebrates first fruits,
seven kinds, and the early harvest of barley, not wheat.
I’ve looked it up now. The rabbis say
the forty-nine days of counting the omer
restrain the excitement of receiving the Torah
at Sinai. Forty years in the desert
endured by twelve tribes.
My grandson has speech now.
I sing for him,
Do you know the muffin man,
his favorite song,
hardly finish before he says, More!
(c) 2022 Arlene Weiner
Arlene Weiner is a poet and playwright who lives in Pittsburgh. Her books include City Bird (Ragged Sky 2016).