Friday, April 19, 2013

PoMo2013 - Poem 17

Abe, Lisa & Hunter

Abe's Red Suspenders

He wore red socks too.
That's what caught my eye.
The red socks,
ski hat, and twinkly eyes.
He sat down next to me,
held out his hand
and said Hi.
I'm Abe.
What could I do
but shake his hand
and say Hi
back. Where you from,
he asked. Easy to tell
I wasn't from Seattle.
Baltimore, I said.
The Bronx, he announced
as if it were the center of the world
and it was to him, still,
albeit he'd been away from there
thirty years or more.

No coincidence we met
in a Jewish history class
at a neighborhood shul.
In Seattle, Jews
who never walked into a shul
before moving West
ended up in one just to hear familiar Ashkenazi sounds
to meet people who moved their hands when they talked -
I move mine a lot - so he liked me, not just for that
of course, but also because I liked his red socks
which I told him, and it made him smile.

At the time he wasn't wearing suspenders
but later, when we were married
at least ten years and he started wearing
them because his body was changing
and belts didn't work as well any more,
I liked them - those suspenders - too.
He's been gone almost three years now
and I still have the suspenders
but I threw the red socks out.

-Esther Altshul Helfgott

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