by Anna Rabinowitz
There -- over there -- beside the iron fence,
Holding on for dear life,
Each cell of her flesh a clear crystal
Waiting for a cut, which could be another facet of
Experience in the life ahead, or a crack,
A flaw in what comes next -- or to cut out though she doesn't
Know yet about
Nor does she know that cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents
In the old country will be gassed in a few years -- and she will
Never have spoken with them, never have touched them or
Garlic on their breath. She doesn't know as she poses how
Expertise negates the future and absolves the past, that
Yellows while rutabagas rot in distant basements and
Events ooze poison against reason, against history -- houses,
Outraged by fire. Blue claws of flame strangle foreign premises.
Final solutions are at hand while official denials spangle
Dear child of the snapshot taken in Brooklyn, eternally in place,
Arms wrapped around your Polish doll --
of the there that is nowhere --
You, burning to get out to scald the world with reasons to be.
Anna Rabinowitz is the editor of American Letters & Commentary, an annual literary journal. Her first collection of poems, was published last year.
The Atlantic Monthly; November 1998; Brooklyn Snapshot; Volume 282, No. 5; page 109.