Musing back

Morris is a young man, looks older
genetics rendering high, sparse hairline
politics, poverty of shtetl life added years
emigration degradation, new country
old life, old ways transitioning to…?

“Ikh vunder, vos vet vern fun aundzer zin?
zeyere zin?”
he muses aloud
Fannie, his wife, rolls her eyes and sighs
“Your sons will find a way.
Who knows if they will have sons?
If they will even live to do?”

The question, the response
not really an answer
linger, in the air integral parts of
piquant nature of
New York City tenement life
urban chaos filters in
from crowded street below
clacking hooves, pushcart wheels
sound only vaguely as
ramshackle wagons on hard dirt

Here Cossacks have been replaced
by beat cops only
slightly less likely to beat, or harass
without prompting though
equally as cynical toward you, yours
“What is this place?”
wonders Morris
“What will become of us all? What is life?”

I nod in agreement as I only can
we sit at a small, wooden table
that doesn’t exist
I listen to a man I never met
who worries of the fate of
his two sons, as I do mine
though I can only nod in agreement
with my grandfather,
as he knows not of what will become of
my father, my uncle – brothers who
drifted apart in life, do not join us today

I can only nod silently as my grandfather
speaks to nobody in particular
certainly not the unknown me
as I can only sit, and wonder aloud
“Ikh vunder, vos vet vern
fun aundzer zin? zeyere zin?”

in clunky, halting Yiddish I learned online
as my father never spoke it,
and I never heard it in my youth

And then I realize it wasn’t
really necessary
as oddly, logically, unironically
my grandfather and I
speak the very same language

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2022

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