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The Schmooze

POEM: ‘The Converts’

On the holiest day we fast till sundown.
I watch the sun stand still
as the horizon edges toward it. Four hours to go.

The rabbi’s mouth opens and closes and opens.
I think fish
and little steaming potatoes,
parsley clinging to them like an ancient script.

Only the converts, six of them in the corner,
in their prayer shawls and feathery beards,
sing every syllable.
What word
are they savoring now?
If they go on loving that way, we’ll be here all night.

Why did they follow us here, did they think
we were happier?
Did someone tell them we knew
the lost words
to open God’s mouth?

The converts sway in white silk,
their necks bent forward in yearning
like swans,
and I covet
what they think we’ve got.

Forthcoming in “Swimming in the Rain: New & Selected Poems, 1980-2015”

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