Papir iz dokh vays
un tint iz dokh shvarts.
Tsu dir, mayn zis lebn,
tsit dokh mayn harts!
Paper is still white
and ink is still black.
To you, my sweet,
my heart still pulls!
Yiddish Wedding Song
Outside, in this night, the birches are white,
reaching up from the earth still and black,
dark as the blood which clouds my heart,
and slowly floods my sex.
I hear you singing the wedding song so aching,
here where we first confessed~~
two fresh blushing girls, sweet-smiling and shaking,
holding hands beneath this bar, in secret,
in the past.
I didn’t know I’d see you. I only stopped for a drink.
A klezmer band clad in khaki and Birkies,
with violin, clarinet & soft drums, start up a waltz
and on stage you appear, outré as ever,
your fire red hair curled above white shoulders
in blue satin, strapless, with a doll’s pink bow
trailing down your gown, you begin singing.
You sing to me, I think as I swing my sweet orange slice around
circling my foggy summer beer, a tall Oberon.
But that’s the trick of the stage, in the spotlight,
straight ahead you gaze and into my heart without seeing.
I want to tell someone at the bar,
“You see that girl? She once was mine.”
But I sit alone and wonder if that was true,
as if I had possessed you, as if I could.
I had the desire, and so did you,
but we slipped through it, that wedding dance,
luminous moonlit breasts and kisses,
crepe lantern roses, so quickly eclipsed.
At the end of the song you come down
and drape your arm around another.
My heart drops, too. I cannot face the loss
of the love that had seemed the answer.
I’d let it go, that question, I thought,
I’d made peace with what was empty.
I’d painted you as my dream girl,
but I soon saw the cracks, the ways we’d never match.
You were wise enough to end it, saying,
“I love you too much to offer you less
than you deserve.” It was true It was true
But, tonight, I cannot face it.
Tonight, I kiss the dark arches of dripping branches,
sigh the sidewalk air home,
& listen very softly as my crowded heart breaks