As a Jewish kid in a small city I suppose I had it pretty good, enough of us that I didn’t totally stand out, and it helped living a single block from the Jewish funeral home, some just didn’t want to travel all that far when the inevitable time came.
But we soon moved to the suburbs, the shtetl neighborhood was gone, and I was a Jewboy to more than a few, so the Temple felt like a safe place, setting aside all the OT stories which were wholly unblievable.
I took a fair number of lumps for killing Christ and all other imaginary sins freely attributed.
I wish I knew then that as an adoptee I was really only half Jewish, and that the other half among my distant kin were kings and saints as well as a fair number of sinners.
She wrapped him carefully in an old blanket and several sections of the Times and put him in the basket with the broken handle she found out behind the Safeway near the culvert that was home until the rains came. She placed him among the weeds and beer bottles, where the river’s smell licked the wicker, and she hoped he would be found quickly. She envisioned him at the right hand of Kings, holding forth on all manner of life and death, princes seeking his insight, hanging on his words. He would not be like others dying at the hand, whim of wealth. He was found a week later lodged against a grate at the intake of the power station and placed in a far corner of the city cemetery under a simple stone “Baby Doe.”
The was a winter, once where even in the north the snow refused to fall and ice rejected jamming the culverts, the sky stared down in amazement. That was the year trees would not bud and flowers fled deeper into the sweetness of the earth, grass singed and lay indolent. It was a year my coat of many colors was taken, pieced out among brothers until each had a color and none a coat. I would sit at the right hand of kings dreaming of a day when dreams might refuse to visit and then, starved of images I could reinforce foundations preparing for their visit. I am strapped to the altar and the knife is poised in the hand of a man who would like to be a father, both of us looking up for intervention. There was a year, once when the ram broke free of the thicket and picked his way down the hill to his young.
First Appeared in Arnazella, 2001. Reprinted on Website of Poets Against the War, 2003. Reprinted in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. 29, No.1, 2005.
The sea is calm today not the petulant child thrashing at the harbor leaving her stone tears in the sands. Perhaps it is the sun stroking her dappled skin or perhaps she is merely listening to the whispers of clouds sliding off into the horizon. We don’t question the sea, that is for Jonahs, and God had trouble enough with the original. Even the angry sea has something to say, and some kings are deaf to whispers. Sitting on the beach listening for the waves that barely lap the sands I know that this day the sea will keep her secrets.