Postmark Israel: To a Crypto-Jew

— My sister writes from Jerusalem

The Ethiopians are here,

gawking at the strange white Jews,

voices like mockingbird


hearts wide-awake

I imagine we rowed to Palestine gripping the oars

only children

winter coats tossed to the wave

for the promise of first fruits muti-seeded cupped

in our hands—

And they say more Russians are coming

with eyes as fierce as the eyes

of muzzled bears, tongues

half-frozen, just beginning

to speak

If I grew up solid and tall

my losses cut loose in a starling flock

over the wedding canopy my lover's prayer shawl

held up by six rifles at mid-day

between the plow and the seed,

our sun-burned backs carving roads for the generations

come back to this little wheel this speck of Asian


On Sunday, another

bronze balladeer

just hit dry land;

near the Wall he sang:

We are branches from

the old tree,

from church and jungle

hideaways, now

are returned

If we learned anatomy in the orange grove

in the silence of Eingedi's gazelle

in the refrain of unstoppable birth

in our daughters' becoming

until rifles couldn't give us

one last day to build

or one more breath—

Give us a land

where sleep is a spring in the desert,

where obsessions rise from one's throat,

word upon flat, upon sharp,

where utterance rings daily

in a more acute ear

and the trumpet of the pole star

tugs castaways


*Postmark Israel was originally published in Kaddish for Columbus, by Finishing Line Press*