POEM: 'Photograph of a Talmudist'

(Taken in Warsaw, 1936)

I will not infer from your black suit
and stiff blanched collar an absolutist’s stance
since moot distinctions were your passion,
nor read prophecy into your ashen beard
though your forehead, pale as a candle, burned,
as did the bald dome beneath your silk skullcap.
Your terse lips questioned transcendence,
your magnified eyes pondered the invisible
from behind the flash of spectacles.
Man of substance, you were suspicious
of these captured appearances on paper —
you who inhabited thought and lived stateless.

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