• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky

Every year, I take my mother to synagogue. I would like to say that I am a good daughter, but I complain the entire time, roll my eyes. She says I don’t have to go, but I insist. She asks if I’ll go after she croaks: NO. The only auditorium I like to sit in for two hours is a movie house. Then there’s the lady who shakes your hand as you come in and says SHANA TOVA as if you’re deaf.  She always asks, “are you still writing?” No, I say, god struck me dead.

It comes to me as an ocean with pages, with squid ink and mottled skies. I see every small army take up the fight. I see lonely old women with  swollen knuckles and diamond rings.  My head feels heavy with the perfume of the dying. My mother keeps telling me things. Thirty-seven years ago, I was a bat mitzvah. I stood there and sang my portion. Even then, I was hot with life.

Whatever you are writing, may it be inscribed in the book of life, sentences that live inside your mouth, scenes you wished for, scenes you escaped from, the ignition of your imagination and the helicopter that hovered near. This is your life. This now. This perfect day. All your tears are here. Every humiliation, every cruelty, every time you took something that wasn’t yours. You are a batallian of complaints. You are the last erotic plum in a purple bowl. I love you with all my heart. Happy new year.

19 Responses

  1. What a beautiful passage, so liquid and clear. Thank you for writing it.

  2. This is what keeps me coming back. Shana Tova (using my inside voice).

  3. aw. Shana Tova.

    the paragraph of the day is:

    I don’t sleep much that night, going over the accident in my mind. I don’t remember much. A stand of birch brushing bare branches against a wintery sky. A blur of horse. ‘Red Sky’ pulling against his halter. Calico caught in the underbrush. The strap of her slip, exposed. Blood smears against the pale freckled skin of her cheek.

    The trains mourn all night long.

  4. To good mothers! And then some.

  5. Thank you.

  6. I am just going to say….wow Betsy.

  7. A song of immanence not eminence. Holy cow you are my kind of poet.

  8. I assume you have seen the best bar mitzvah movie scene ever in the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man? If not, run, watch. Immediately.

  9. Thank you. Exactly what I needed to hear.

  10. Betsy, what a poetic peach you are. Love this last paragraph. Could eat it with a spoon.

  11. If a dozen editors haven’t already approached you about publishing a collection of your blog posts, they should be picking up the phone right now.

  12. A perfect scrimshaw day of awe.

  13. Shana Tova to you, too. May God keep and bless you always.

  14. I will no longer think of plums in purple bowls as sweet and innocent.

  15. Betsy, your blog has never failed to make me laugh. This time, you’ve made me cry. שנה טובה ומתוקה

  16. And a big ol’ “L’Shanah Tovah” to you, too, from Goyische Kop (as my wife now calls me when I forget to take out the garbage).

  17. For a writer it’s all about the words. How to shake them out and form them into something that can be shared with everyone who comes to hear or read.

    Your words here are wonderful.

  18. these are lovely words

  19. Well, I’m there with you, Betsy. Not only do you evoke your synagogue perfectly, but the synagogues of my childhood and the way they live on in my mind, all those images.

    Happy New Year.

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