We present this work in honor of the First Day of Chanukah.
The first year, I grated potatoes, chopped onions
& watched. The second year, I fed all but the eggs
into the machine & said I’ll do the latkes & did,
my pile of crisp delights borne to the feast by the wife
who baffled me, our books closed, banter hushed,
money useless in the apartment—house, my in-laws called it,
new-wave thump at one end, ganja reek at the other—
in which she’d knelt to tell the no one who listened
no more no no more no a three-year-old mouthing
the essential prayer. The uncle made rich by a song
stacked three & dug in, talking critics & Koch—
everyone crunching now, slathering applesauce, slurping tea—
talking Rabin & Mehitabel, radio & Durrell,
how a song is a poem or it isn’t a song
& vice-versa. Done, he pointed a greasy finger
at me, said You can’t be a goy. You—I say it
for all to hear—are an honorary Jew!
which, impossible dream, my latkes lived up to
for five more years. Then the wailing.
Then the dust.