Friday, March 16, 2012

On Learning, Late in Life . . .

On Learning, Late in Life, that Your Mother Was a Jew
by Marilyn L. Taylor

. . . . . . . . .Methuselah something. Somethingsomething Ezekiel.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . —Albert Goldbarth

So that explains it, you say to yourself.
And for one split second, you confront
the mirror like a Gestapo operative—
narrow-eyed, looking for the telltale hint,

the giveaway (jawline, profile, eyebrow)—
something visible that could account
for this, the veritable key
to your life story and its denouement.

It seems the script that you were handed
long ago, with all its blue-eyed implications,
can now be seen as something less than candid—
a laundry list of whoppers and omissions.

It’s time for something else to float
back in from theology’s deep end: the strains,
perhaps, of A-don o-lam, drowning out
the peals of Jesus the Conqueror Reigns,

inundating the lily and the rose,
stifling the saints (whose dogged piety
never did come close, God knows,
to causing many ripples of anxiety)

and you’re waiting for the revelation
on its way this minute, probably—
the grand prelude to your divine conversion,
backlit with ritual and pageantry.

But nothing happens. Not a thing. No song,
no shofar, no compelling Shabbat call
to prayer— no signal that your heart belongs
to David rather than your old familiar, Paul.

Where does a faithless virgin go from here,
after being compromised by two
competing testimonies to thin air—
when both of them are absolutely true?

~ first published in GSU Review