Carolyn Shoshana Fershtman
We baked cakes for the queen of heaven
And called You by name: Astarte, Asherah, goddess, Anat, our protector
Jeremiah told us the famine came because we honored you.
And we answered: “We shall not listen to you. For when we poured libations and burned incense to the Queen of Heaven, and baked her cakes, we had plenty of food and saw no evil.”
But Jeremiah’s ways prevailed, And we
We have gone hungry ever since
In the temple, your likeness stood for over 200 years
Though many tore you down, we restored you, again, and again An ancient tug of war that we had hoped,
Mistakenly, was finally coming to an end
You joined us in our exile
We no longer called you Asherah, happy,
Because how could we be, with your House in ruin?
Your sacred vulva, once celebrated in menarche rights and childbirthing reflected in the cleft of trees, the mouths of caves
Your likeness, clutched by Zilpah as she gave birth to Asher,
Secreted by Rachel as she left her father’s house,
The downward facing triangle,
Was buried deep,
Trampled over with centuries of forced forgetting
It was only after the Shoah
When so many lost our faith in the Gd on high
Did you return to us, thousands of your likenesses springing up in ancient digs throughout the motherland
You whispered to us, here I have been all along, buried deep in the soil,
Buried deep in your earth.
I have always been here, you remind us Hidden
Astarte/ queen of heaven Nistar/ hidden
I smile when I see you in your pink pussy hat, the downward facing triangle
Delighting as the two ears reach out to heaven, your chin forming the third angle
Pointing to the belly of the mother. And I think, “Now those are hats!”
But as I look down at my plate of hamantaschen, gleaming with
juicy raspberry jam,
and poppyseeds ground
in the mortar and pestles of the grandmothers, I think,
These are NOT hats!
These are cakes,
cakes luscious enough to sate the hunger of millennia Cakes to the queen of heaven.