Bio Note: I do a lot of work for nonprofit organizations: I am the president of the Michigan College English Association; I am active in my synagogue; I am a founding mother of the Rape Crisis Center in Madison, Wisconsin; also, I co-founded the Professional Instructors Organization union at Western Michigan University. My hobbies are hiking, singing, and bird-watching. I have published seven books, including the award-winning children’s fiction picture book about bullying How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Arbordale, 2006; 6th edition 2018), the poetry book Folk Concert: Changing Times (Anaphora Literary Press, 2012), and a book of nature poems entitled Nature’s Olympics (Wipf and Stock, 2021).
Warm Autumn in Michigan
No hard frost hits until the day after Halloween and temperatures in the seventies prevail on Veteran’s Day. Trees reach full color in November. Maples, ginkgoes, sycamores, and oaks hold their leaves past Thanksgiving. Lilies, hydrangea, roses, candytufts, hibiscus, and clover keep blooming, defy the waning light. We pick apples, parsley, and basil fresh from our garden. The sun stands still.
For Sufen Lai The mean kids in your Taiwan grade school jeered that you were as skinny as a bamboo shoot and taller than the teacher. Thirty years later, you're still slender but curved like a taut bow, and your long, dark hair cascades to your waist. Only your friends know how wide your heart can stretch.
We Jews empty our pockets on the afternoon of Rosh HaShanah, recite prayers and psalms, hurl starchy food, cast our sins into flowing water. Fish, ducks, and geese gobble the millet, rice cakes, and matza. Do our mistakes cause indigestion? Do our dirty deeds pollute the stream? When the creatures excrete our sins, does the substance transform the river? Do our grains fertilize the algae and seaweed, nurture new life?
©2022 Janet Ruth Heller
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