To a Rosh Hashanah Challah


Sweet   bread, stern in your
eternal roundness, I sneak pieces
of your crust at midnight—

for isn’t yours the sacred
circle that we want for a
sweet new year?

The baker infused you
with honey to make us happy,
& maybe her kitchen miracle will work:

sugar the bitter, renew
our sour apples in an orchard
that greens the table.

Sweet challah, you’re not my bread, not my
tall Italian panettone, not my muscular pan
forte: you’re somebody else’s   promise

for twelve months of pleasure, & as I nibble
your wild milky eggy sugars, & lick your
wishes, tastes of the new

butter up the stiff stuff & liven with
rare syrups of the desert
the staleness we want to forget.