In my dream last night, back again on the corner
of Avenue J and 14th, a rabbinical student stops me
to ask if I’m Jewish. I show him the framed photo
I carry: a family of nine. Pale faces, strong noses; black hair
parted or pulled back; the children dressed like the parents.
He says, They, are they Jewish? I don’t know, I say.
In my dream last night, Hungaria. The baker of small rolls
says, Can I help you? He means, Are you Jewish?
A loaf of rye, I say. He looks behind him, racks and racks
of loaves, buns, bagels, twists. We have something that is not rye?
he says. And, Why are you saying Hungaria,
Mr. America? I take the steamship to Prague
and all the statues salute me. The young women blow out
kisses like candles, their hair wheat against the scythes
of their cheekbones. No one will let me finish saying,
Will you marry me, or Please, only a sip of your blackberry brandy.
In my dream the twenty thousand pigeons killed in the war
rise thunderous as waterfalls. And so I walk the suspension bridge
from Austria to Niagara and my father and his father
and the crowd of fathers behind them
greet me with a simple pair of shoes, a jar of herring in dill,
a Cherokee headdress, one black potato, a wine glass
to crush under which foot they will not say.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY, CHICAGO
after a line by Dean Young
Broken river, you’re not broken after all.
Raw sewage lake, you’re fathomed like an ocean.
We’ve turned you green, and puke green,
respectively, but it’s we who envy you.
After how many years does running in
the wrong direction become, if not right,
at least something people stop noticing,
as they walk the bridge, walk their dogs
dressed like Pekingese Celtophiles? Chicago,
you were not my first choice of anything,
but the woman I followed here had better ideas
than to live in a place called Missouri. Yes,
misery. Misery loves coffee. And sunflower
seeds and bus passes. And a stranger on a bench
with a braid in a braid, her un-ringed finger
stuck in a wedding magazine. And misery loves
her dog, barking at a cloud which is a sky.