The fake flowers in this café booth
sit in an old jar (in real water?)
but I tug and they don’t budge.
Resin, or plastic? It looks
concentrated, needing to be changed.
The café itself a container for my hour,
my morning. What is facebook
a container for? My friends talk about
Netanyahu, and about the weather.
Rachel’s roof leaks.
A 20 year-old snow record
is going to be broken in Boston.
I remember my children’s second year
Nowhere clear enough for a stroller to go
We took them to the mall to run around.
Can we contain Iran?
What does my leaky memory hold
from that year? When I leave this café
my friends and I will read
The Book of Esther, in Yiddish.
I remember the Boston Globe
depicting Robert Parish with a snorkel.
This week Brian Shaw got fired,
and Lenny Bias is still dead.
Who remembers all these names?
Where once was love, the Celtics roster.
Half-way between that container and this,
at Beth Jacob, in Minneapolis,
Rabbi Allen all gung-ho
about the invasion of Iraq.
gloated from the pulpit
about Uday and Qusay
Saddam Hussein’s captured sons.
He was drunk, on roller skates,
I dressed in sackcloth and ashes
and sat in the back.
A kippah, a nuclear weapon, separatism,
Old women, bitter over intermarriage,
pushing their grandchildren away.
Does any of this make sense?
The New York Yiddish modernists
did not hold a poem as a container.
The mind, they said, is all we know
But concentrated beauty is a lie.
Names resist decay. Mordechai,
the guy I dressed as once,
a Jew named for a Babylonian god.
Esther is from ‘star’ or maybe ‘Ishtar’.
Read the story. We were never pure.
The oldest human things we have
are shards. I look to Yiddish words,
German, Aramaic, baked in blood,
turned on the wheel of exile; they endure
longer than mouths. The residue
of what they once contained remains.
David R. Forman. March, 2015