First Purchase

About Edith Millman’s father. Taken from an account in her transcribed interview. Her father had given up faith in God after the Holocaust, but when he came to America, his first purchase was a new tallis.

The tallis of his bar mitzvah
was buried somewhere in Europe's
red soil
without him,
crushed into the dirt by
black boots
shined by
hands greedy for
a pound of sugar.

How dangerous is
the bedchamber of
Potiphar's wife,
the garden of Mr. MacGregor,
and the streets of Zayde's youth.

He throws G-d overboard
somewhere in the Atlantic
and spits, "Kaputt!" toward the sky.

But when he is old
and his days of reciting
the Haggadah
in flawless Hebrew
to his grandchildren
are through,
they will bury him
in his first American purchase
after all.

© 10/10/97, Lois E. Olena

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