Thank you for visiting my poetry site. I started writing poems to help me understand things better. It’s a tool I use to crack open a subject and poke around. If you have any thoughts feel free to contact me. I want to thank the editors who publish my work.  Be well. Michael

 

Schmattas                                         

 

My grandmother's rags are her photographs

from Poland, Hungary, Hell’s Kitchen in New York.

 

Her grandfather’s farmer pants, rough as tree bark.

The hand towel – her blanket for twelve nights

 

on the boat from Gdansk. Pieces she saved

from the war—her oldest sister Anna’s scarf, “Never

 

I held her to my cheek again.” Touched over and over,

they fray. She brings them into the kitchen, to the chair

 

by the window, measures by feel, cuts, wets the thread

between her lips, slips it through the needle’s eye and sews

 

the tattered edges smooth—but never “like new."

New is a bad word, maybe the worst. She won’t make

 

these scraps something else. Not a quilt, tablecloth,

or scarves, regardless of my mother’s nagging. 

 

“Memories, you don’t change. What happened, happened.”

She bathes each piece alone in the sink’s cold water so the colors

 

don’t run, dries them from the string in the bathroom, away

from daylight. My grandfather’s black sock, the veil from her

 

wedding dress—and my mother’s, a doily from her aunt’s home

in Orseg where she slept with cows. She tells me their stories

 

as if she’s reminding me of someone I knew, should remember,

touching one to her forehead, another to her chest, her cloudy

 

eyes–like she is touching their face, their hair; her mouth opens,

dazed by the miracle of meeting again. The last two pieces

 

she puts back are always the same. The honey-brown fur strip

from her brother Lev’s Shabbos hat. “His Shtreimel.’ The yellowed

 

dish cloth that holds her mother’s voice. She puts it to my ear.

Before we leave she always asks my mother to bring her something

 

of mine, “A schmatta. Old is okay - better even.”    

 

Appears in Little Patuxent Review 2017