NaPoWriMo Day 27: Rainbow Gathering, 1991

by Rachel Creager Ireland

It was a beautiful day. I closed my eyes
and warmed my face in the sun.
We were sitting on the ground in a meadow,
surrounded by earthy people
in grimy handwovens and tie-dyes,
and before the meal everyone stood in a circle
and shouted WE LOOOOOOVE YOU as a prayer.
We were young, a handful of friends for a summer
whose names I no longer remember,
who didn’t yet know the value
of carrying a bowl and cup in one’s backpack.
A big pot of brown rice was brought round,
some glopped into every bowl
off a very long-handled spoon.
When he came to us, the wild-haired hippie
with the spoon told us to hold out our hands.
The rice was sticky and still steaming,
barely tolerable to my tender skin.
“Hand food is the best food!” he said,
and went on glopping. I took it into
my mouth. It was the best rice I’d ever eaten:
it tasted of sunshine and mountain air
and strong hearts. Of wet earth
and freshly cut cedars. That day I learned a
rich, deep truth: that the story of Jesus
feeding the multitudes was absolutely real.
And that hand food is the best food.