The John Edward Johnson Prize
Winter 2007
Jerri Chaplin

Passover, Junior Year

Matzah was my Madeleine
smeared with spring break butter
flaking into the pages of Look Homeward, Angel.

Bites of words, one after another
losing count
losing track
of the hours and the mouthfuls
a teenage bookworm’s kind of Passover prayer,
hugging the love of language to her chest.

I was sustained all eight days of the festival.
Years later, I opened the book,
all the crumbs of memory and history
spilled out.

I didn’t remember much about the story
but for being so lost in it,
lost as the children of Israel
seeing their pursuers awash in the Red Sea
gasping at that
and dry-wading through miracle.
©2007 Jerri Chaplin