The Shabbat Before Her Wedding

She is the braid of the challah
twisted between second grade bible stories
and the breath of modern Israel. She is turning
off the oven, placing trays of sliced meat
and bowls of sectioned fruit onto the lazy Susan.
She is the candle that has not yet been lit,
the matches on the ledge behind the sink
waiting to be taken, to be brushed along
the coarse striking surface, a wavering flame.
She remembers the dozens of times she opened
the front door to the smells of the rabbi’s Shabbat
during college, the homecoming of flavors
that committed her to kosher.
Her fiancé in the bedroom now
tries to memorize the blessings, the transliteration,
figuring out how the mixing of their blood
will work for the unborn children.
She is the heat of the kitchen after the steam
of her food has slowed, the shadow of her grandmother
setting silverware on linen napkins, her hand
miming the pride of Jewish women.