Holiday 2015 - THE POTOMAC
Zackary Sholem Berger
I have never been lost in the city I moved to
but when I visit my birthcity the cows low my name
soft and tenderly, so I go to them in the fields
and listen to the delivery trucks bumble by.
Every man– and pothole sings its song.
I visit people I knew in school, the beer
tastes like dandelions must, the sports teams
lose charmingly, there is a famous bridge
and horrible suicides. I went to the hospital
the last time I was there.
My leg was broken and I got an infection.
In the city I moved to, the butterflies
know where my girlfriend's apartment is
and show me the way when I arrive
at the bus station. She is expert in French.
We have never spoken to each other
nor kissed, but bake fiendishly
till the entire hallway is filled with strangers
stretching out their hands for baguette.
I have never caught on fire.
I am more than the sum of my fevers, and as my sweat rises on me at night, I
look at the moon and feel my years folding themselves into paper airplanes,
flying under an unused piano in the foyer.
The dogs here, the luggage there, the porch swept: sunflowers bending their
clownish heads in prayer, forgiveness, or capitulation.
There is no sitting around while the clock's digits flutter at night. There is only a
leaf that passes by the window, the wrong slip of tree at the wrong time.
Perhaps around this area there is an invisible circular outline. Or these columns
rising after every step of mine on some barely registered carving in the ground.
Please sit down next to me and record your impressions of this scene as well.
Together, we will build a rickety contraption that will assume its own burden,
lumbering into the sunset without a glance behind.
Some girls go to dive bars
Others to cathedral
One guy likes a brothel
Another loves the shteebl
Believing is required
Everyone needs something
Whether it's the devil
Or someone in Heaven
What if you've got no one
and are just a hater?
You'll wander then like Cain
In every thoroughfare
Everyone will scorn you
Mock you and make merry.
And the whole world'll
Be your cemetery.
—Avrom Reisen (translated by Z.Sh.B. from the Yiddish)