Being Jewish in a Small Town

Someone writes kike on 
the blackboard and the 
"k's" pull thru the 
chalk   stick in my

plump pale thighs
even after the high
school burns down the
word is written in

the ashes   my under
pants elastic snaps
on Main St because
I can't go to

Pilgrim Fellowship
I'm the one Jewish girl
in town but the 4
Cohen brothers

want blond hair
blowing from their
car   they don't know
my black braids

smell of almond
I wear my clothes
loose so no one
dreams who I am

will never know
Hebrew   keep a 
Christmas tree in
my drawer   in

the dark   my fingers
could be the menorah
that pulls you toward
honey in the snow

From Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry, edited by Marian Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan (Penguin, 1994). Originally appeared in Ghosts of the Holocaust, edited by Stewart J. Florsheim (Wayne State University Press, 1989). Copyright © 1989 by Lyn Lifshin. Reprinted by permission of the poet. All rights reserved.