They cram through the house gate on Baron Hirsch Street
where in her kitchen, aproned and perspiring, Golda Meir’s
at the stove pinching the last powder of paprika into
her pot of chicken soup with kneidlach. ˈWelkəm. Erev tov,
her husky voice flourishes as this band of women from
the dawn take their seats around her green formica table.
No policy initiatives or state secrets tonight, their host
dispatches cheerfully along with spoons and forks for supper,
miniature vases of poppies at each place setting.
The ceiling fan gives Eve a chill so she asks to borrow
one of Golda’s shawls as she sits down. I guess patriarchy
began with me, but I was the “manly” one who took the fruit
of challenge with chin up and eyes clear. Golda chuckles.
Eve appeals: Prime Minister, I know that famous bite
of your coffee blend. Please, a cup with sweet cream
and we can get on to the fulcrum of fear and desire.
So the rest pull out their chairs and settle in, all figurehead
ancients with faces from algorithms buzzing through
the minds of the old masters, and Golda’s—mass media’s
countenance of a Zionist queen. She places a pot of her brew
on the table along with three bottles of mead. The old
kingdoms linger with us, she declares and the group breaks
into snickers and soft applause. Lot’s Wife is in a declarative
mood as she lifts a glass for boasting, Call me Chloe now.
I’ve claimed a name and I’m moving forward.
Between shared triangles of warm pita, Sarah and Hagar
trade melancholy scenes, how hard their sons suckled
their nipples, how the hotbed suite of dogma usurped
their friendship leaving them with calloused feet, how
plotting to kick that hairy father in the nuts could have
been satisfying. From stove to table, table to stove,
Golda’s orthopedic shoes and austere bun keep rhythm.
Goldie, we heard you finally declassified your chicken soup
recipe, Rebekah calls out between slurps. We must have copies
before we leave. It’s delicious and as persuasive as my savory
goat stew delivered with lamb skins of silken hair.
Golda nods for what clandestine persistence can reap.
Slices of honey cake glisten on Desert Rose china
and with shoulders squared, forgiveness is passed
around the table. What androcentric fantasies bare:
entangling Rachel and Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah
(desperate wives and rapes of enslaved women);
incest for Lot’s two daughters (anything to preserve
manhood lineage); a Jewish state borne from slaughter
on a world’s stage (maniacal addiction for power).
Golda’s big black American DeSota roars into the driveway
and Deborah bounds into the apartment. Where’s my favorite
Yiddish socialist? she blurts, clutching a swinging bouquet
of roped salamis. She embraces Golda and they smile into
each other knowing their risky covenants—clash of sabres,
lethal spit of gunfire, two Israeli warriors wedged between
what’s at the edge and what’s at the center. Moonlight enters
through windows. Deborah takes a seat at the table—all
sisters into the night. Golda and her guests raise their goblets
of bright wine: for dust and divinity, for the difference
between prayer and bold gumption, for time to leap out of
toughened skins that have been gilded for the sake of others.
Rikki Santer’s poetry has received many honors including six Pushcart and three Ohioana book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her eleventh collection, Stopover, inspired by the original Twilight Zone series, was published by Luchador Press in the spring. Please contact her through her website: rikkisanter.com.