From Bialcon With Love

I am—let’s stop there.
I remember—
If I am
to remember
this soil—
Not soil, but coordinates
a geopolitical map—
If I am to think like that
I fall into a trap.
There no past
I can walk into—
There’s nothing there.
But across from here
a door
unmarked but read
the Jewish Historical Society—
Warsaw
shadowed by blue glassed high-rise
I can walk in.
I can see the artifacts.
The restored living rooms.
The tallises, the Talmud shelves—
I can read the names.
The rabbis and rabbinates
the complete prewar census.
the death lists
But like the blind poking his stick,
touch does not become sight—
There is darkness
and if I turn my head
more darkness ahead—
Though an inch to the left, I see
Bialcon
designer label
Lady’s clothing store—
Like my father’s
breadwinning 70′s small chain
made the Krasnjanskis Krasners
trimmed the beard of Seljma
made him Solomon and Sol
made the lower east side
my own backwards dream
to melt amongst ethnic kin
and non-kin
shave off the wretched labels
and bathe in the muck of desperate
industry
slowing with each American born
generation
the Roman assimilation
leisurely eating bagels in the sun
the cream dripping off lips
comfort became the family herald
saunas not found on the avenue
but in the basement
and California pastel swimming pools
orchards of oranges
fallen in the backyard
turn the head back
an inch to the right
back through the door
the Jewish Historical Society
whiffs of dead pews
no relief there—

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