- Chloe's Bat Mitzvah
Stuck in a cribin St. Petersburgnot ever held,then Chloe was found,named and claimed.
Speaking no words, wanting no touch,walking round and around the contoursof the sleeper car on the way to Moscow,at fourteen months, a wide-eyedundernourished survivor,uttering one guttural sound, over and over,circling the space, patting the window
And so she arrived twelve years later,a Bat Mitzvah girlsurrounded by parentswho gave her a life. [End Page 18]
Spark of the neighborhood,chanting each Hebrew word,Chloe faced the learned congregation,the family assembled from Pittsburgh and Philly—locales no where nearthat hug-less orphans' holding pen.
With tones and tunes and wordsquite perfect, she read her Torah portionand said a speech, every word her own,about sad things in the worldmost of all her mother's illness
Then her mother in green dressdark curls, dark eyesshowed how lucky they areshe and Chloe to have each otherhow Chloe cares for the familythe neighbors, animals she encounters—loves every dognames the squirrels, notes their moodsgives her rowdy brainy brotherthe best seat on the couchcovers her mother with a blanketwhen she rests from the chemoloads her dad's workplacewith Andy Griffith screen-saver images
Beloved by her gaggle of girl friendsin high heels and slinky dresses,Chloe in demur cottonflat shoes, hair tightly bound,a standout athlete, school actresstall, wraithlike, princess of a thirteen-year-old,wide eyes and sculpted cheeks— [End Page 19] Leslie Caron, Audrey Hepburnor a Bolshoi ballerina perhaps.
There she was at the partycaring for the littlest guestwhile we meandered aroundin awe of big-hearted Chloeher speech, her beautiful momthe daunting baggageshe has livedand yet must liveto overcome. [End Page 20]
Buff Lindau is public relations director for Saint Michael's College in Vermont, where she edits and writes for the alumni magazine. She was born and raised in Columbia, SC, went to Goucher College, and earned a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. Her dissertation on feminism in the English novel was a very early jump into women's studies (1970). She has come to poetry in the last three years and has had poems published in The Onion River Review, previously in Bridges, and has poems forthcoming in Families.