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.