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Many people will be celebrating the first Seder of Passover tonight, considering the wonder of the delivery of the Jews from Egypt and the universal promise of spring, as well as the importance of telling our children what past generations have experienced and learned. In that spirit, we offer a poem of spring resurrection from Marge Piercy's most recent collection THE CROOKED INHERITANCE. For Piercy's poems and reflections specifically about Passover and its traditions—and the need to keep them fresh and relevant to contemporary celebrants—readers should consult Piercy's PESACH FOR REST OF US, a delightful how-to memoir, in which she brings together her advice on putting together a personal and meaningful ceremony, family stories, her own holiday recipes, and many of the Passover poems and readings she has composed for use in seders through the years. Her recipe for egg salad, which follows further below, is its own kind of spring poem.

The streets of Detroit were lined with elms

I remember elm trees that were
the thing of beauty on grimy
smoke-bleared streets stinking of death
and garbage, but over the cramped
rotting houses, the elms arched.

They were cities of leaves.
I would lie under them
and my eyes would rise
buoyed up and surfeited
in immense rustling viridescence.

They enclosed me like a cathedral.
I entered them as into the heart
of a sanctuary in a mountain
pure and vast and safe.
I wanted to live in their boughs.

They gave no fruit, no nuts
and their fall color was weak,
but their embrace was strong.
I would stare at them, how
their powerful trunks burst

out of the dirt fully formed
and graceful, how they rushed
toward the sky and then halted
to spread out in a firmament
of green, of green, of green.

Passover Egg Salad

This works for fifteen to sixteen people, which is what we have every year. You can cut it in half or quarter it or double it.

4 medium cucumbers or 3 really long ones. Peel and slice into a big pretty bowl. You can get fancy with the slices if you like.
3 bulb fennels. Use the tender white part. When you are slicing and it begins to resist you, stop.
10 hard-boiled eggs

Slice the eggs and mix the slices of cucumber and fennel together with them. Then you want to dress the salad:

Good virgin olive oil to taste
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

This is kind of a joke, as some lemons are very juicy and some are miserly with their juice. So just juice half a lemon at a time, stir into the oil mixture, and taste. Add lemon juice until you can taste it, but it should never overwhelm the olive oil. Pour over the salad.

Before you boil the eggs, if you prick them with a pin or whatever, they will not tend to break and spill their innards untidily into the pan. If you run the boiled eggs under cold water for a couple of minutes, then as fast as you can peel them, it is a lot easier. The shells are cool and the eggs are still hot. That makes for quick, neat peeling. Much less frustrating than if you let the eggs cool completely and then try to pick the shells off.

This egg salad can sit happily in its dressing while the first part, the longest part, of the haggadah is being read and discussed. Right after the Hillel sandwich (Charoset, Maror, and matzoh), this is what I serve.

It is an admirable start to the meal. It fulfills the egg and salt requirement and is delicious. Unlike most salads, it is still good the next day, if you have any left over.

So as the egg begins the bird, the egg begins our Pesach meal.




About Marge Piercy


Excerpt from THE CROOKED INHERITANCE. Copyright © 2007 by Marge Piercy. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Excerpt from PESACH FOR THE REST OF US. Copyright © 2007 by Marge Piercy. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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