Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/

Story from Another Inquisition

Deborah wasn't a Jew, and then
she is: one day, the salt from lox—so
flushed, so red—no longer
cloys, but harkens to a parted sea,

a mat of smoke and ocean
on the tongue. Or maybe
a relative in Argentina picks up
the phone, calls Deborah, speaks

the Barchu slowly, the Hebrew filling
her ears, unlocking like a door. This relative,
a quiet old refugee Jew, speaks Spanish
to his mailman, but whispers

"I love you" to his wife in Polish each night
before bed—the candlesticks
kept polished in the closet, a habit
of secrets. Maybe Deborah's always been good

at keeping her own secrets—the clarinet
that makes her weep, street-corner Klezmer,
the melody she knew before she came
into existence. She's always felt old, so

old, older than all the graves
of Europe, older than Eve, who,
like all Jews, had to learn the truth
at the site of her hungry mouth.

Rachel Mennies

Cimarron Review

Fall 2012

To view this poem online, visit the Poetry Daily archive at http://www.poems.com/archive.php
View a large-print version of this poem