Poetry | Buying challah in Silicon Valley

First Edition features new original works by Northern California Jewish writers. Appearing the first issue of each month, it includes a poem and an excerpt from a novel or short story.

by zack rogow

In this immaculate suburb

where I earn my daily bread

the saleslady in the French soap store

wears a white lab coat

as if dispensing life-saving medications.

Another boutique is completely dedicated

to sachets of lavender and anise,

and even the thrift shop is pricey.

Thanks be to Google,

the all-knowing, the all-powerful,

where many of the locals work,

I discover that a bakery 

hiding in this town

sells challah.

On a Friday afternoon I hunt

for this establishment, squished

between Safeway and Starbucks.

The kind woman who helps me is Mary Anne,

named for both the mother and grandmother

of you-know-who.

And even though

Mary Anne asks me if I’d like the challah sliced,

and even though

the baker hasn’t quite grasped

that there’s no such thing

as too many poppy seeds,

still, when I chauffeur the loaf home

and its fragrance floods my car,

when our family gathers

under the eyes of the candles

to say the brachot,

we can still touch

in the sweet-soft folds of yellow grain

the warm hands

of all the Miriams and Abrahams

who came before us.

Zack Rogow
is the author, editor or translator of 20 books and plays. His eighth book of poems, “Talking with the Radio: poems inspired by jazz and popular music,” was published in 2015 by Kattywompus Press. He teaches in the low-residency MFA writing program at the University of Alaska Anchorage and is poetry editor of Catamaran Literary Reader. Rogow lives in San Francisco.


Works may be submitted to fiction editor Ilana DeBare at [email protected] or poetry editor Joan Gelfand at [email protected] Fiction excerpts may run up to 2,500 words, but only 800 words will appear in the print edition, with the rest appearing online. All prose and poetry published to date can be viewed at jweeklylit.wordpress.com.