Shabbos goy

July 17, 2020

The early palaver of nestling crows
Outside my window in the white pine tree
Calls back a childhood in which such ruckus
Seemed prelude to possibility.

But I need to resist any rosy nostalgia:
I had my small troubles. I scarcely believed
The world would be nothing but pleasure and promise.
Even young, I wasn’t entirely naïve.

Still I woke eager for my gang of pals,
For games we devised by improvisation,
And of course the vigor of our own palaver,
Which was graced by savvy. Or so we imagined.

A beloved friend from San Francisco,
Raised a Jew near Coney Island,
Now a cultural Jew, left here today.
I cherished the weeklong visit with him.

Our talk would get silly, but not truly childish.
It didn’t involve emphatic insistence
On one team’s being superior
To some other, to mention a tiny instance,

Or on faith, for much larger. For near sixty years,
There’ve been very few secrets we haven’t shared,
However wildly different our backgrounds,
With this man I love. So I wonder from where

I get the sense we left some things
Unsaid, and I wonder what they might be?
In this after-time, it’s as if I were thirsty.
This is not, to be sure, confined to me

In my dealings with that particular man.
It’s just that his stay has roiled a thought:
The older I get, the less I suspect
I’ll ever get my ardors across—

To God, to the woman I’ll love until death,
To our burgeoned family, to other dear friends—
If I can’t identify them myself.
Though spring days grow long, some dusk descends

On my soul sometimes, and not only toward dark.
No need to acknowledge it’s metaphorical.
Whatever its nature, I proceed through that darkness
Like a Shabbos goy. Such as I’m able,

I spread light, although I fear it’s feckless.
Talk! Talk! Talk! the nestlings gabble.